In a feature called "The catch" in The Coast's February 26 issue, news editor Tim Bousquet explained why it's so very difficult to get sustainably caught seafood here in Halifax. The expression "sustainable seafood" is itself fraught with problems. There isn't enough of a demand for it, as there is in the organic produce and meat industries.
"We have to work on local branding," said Susanna Fuller, marine conservation coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, in the story. It would be a win/win situation for the industry if people cared about this information: Halifax restaurants and markets to could sell the sustainably caught seafood at a higher price, offering it as a specialty product, provided there is a demand.
Right now, most of the fish caught off our shores, even by the conscientious, small-scale operations, get absorbed into the large-scale, industrial production, so there's no way to tell how it was caught when it arrives on our table. The fish is often shipped elsewhere in the world, only to eventually arrive back here in town, frozen and processed, adding a huge carbon footprint. Not to mention that chronic, industrial overfishing has led us to, according to a 2006 report by Dalhousie University Marine Biologist Boris Worm, the precipice of disaster. All fish stocks could be gone "within our lifetime" if present trends continue.
Educate yourself by visiting seachoice.org. Then ask for fish from local, small-scale catches. Request hook- and-line-caught fish at the Fisherman's Market, Pete's Frootique, Home Grown Organic, Local Source Market and the vendors such as Mike's Fish Shop at the Halifax Farmers' Market. At greener restaurants, like Fid, Chives and jane's on the common, they'll happily tell you where their fish came from. Phil's Seafood and even Gus' Pub offer locally caught fish in season.
Courtesy of Rob Johnson, Atlantic Canada Seachoice Coordinator,Ecology Action Centre.
Some Halifax/ NS restaurants that serve quality local sustainable seafood options:
Chives Canadian Bistro (1537 Barrington, 420-9626)
Jane's On The Common (2394 Robie, 431-5683)
FID (1569 Dresden Row, 422-9162)
The Wooden Monkey (1707 Grafton, 444-3844)
Ryan Duffy's (1650 Bedford Row, 421-1116)
Tempest (117 Front Street, Wolfville, NS, 902-542-0588)
JB's (Barrington, NS, 902-637-1580)
Some Halifax/ NS Producers and Retailers that have Sustainable Options (but you need to ask!):
- Fisherman's Market (607 Bedford Hwy, 443-3474):
(Farmed mussels, Chedabucto Bay Trap-caught Shrimp, Bottom hook and line haddock, Lobster, and Seasonally: Harpooned Swordfish, Mackerel, Herring, Rod-n-reel Tuna (not bluefin!)
- Mike's Fish Shop (Halifax Farmers’ Market, 830-3474):
(Farmed mussels, Bottom hook and line haddock, Lobster, and Seasonally: Harpooned Swordfish, Mackerel, Herring, Rod-n-reel Tuna (not bluefin!)
- Home Grown Organics (6186 Allan, 492-1412):
(Hook and Line Haddock and Chedabucto Bay Trap-Caught Shrimp)
- Local Source Market (5783 Charles, 454-6014):
(Indian Point Mussels, and soon Chedabucto Bay Trap-Caught Shrimp)
- Pete's Frootique (1515 Dresden Row, 425-5700):
(Chedubucto Bay Trap-Caught Shrimp)
- Indian Point Mussels- low-density farmed mussels (available at the Halifax Farmer's Market & Local Source Market)
- Dave's Fresh Clams- delivers fresh clams weekly from Port Wade
- Shan Daph Oysters- low-density farmed oysters
- Sambro Fisheries: Bottom hook and line Haddock, Pollock, Hake, Lobster, and Seasonally: Harpooned Swordfish, Mackerel, Herring, Rod-n-reel Tuna (not bluefin!)
- Alyssa Foods: Bottom Hook and Line Haddock, Pollock, Hake (labeled as such, unlike others above)
- Sea Star Seafoods: Bottom Hook and Line Haddock, Pollock, Hake (soon to be labeled)
The more people ask their retailers and restaurants the question about how and where their seafood was caught, the more the answer will shift from “I don't know,” to “from local and sustainable sources.”