It’s 2019 and we’re all trying our best to eat as healthy as possible (new year, new you, right?). Of course, this involves shopping locally and buying fresh ingredients whenever we can, as well as ordering the healthiest options on the menu when we dine out.
All of this involves a level of trust that we hold with the grocery stores where we buy our food, and the restaurants we visit on date night and beyond. But this trust is threatened when you discover that local produce is being mislabelled.
Last year, research conducted by UBC revealed that a quarter of seafood sold in Metro Vancouver is mislabelled. And more than 300 samples were taken from restaurants, sushi bars, and grocery stores, to be tested for the study. This means you’re not guaranteed to get what you paid for, and that sucks.
Thankfully, you’ve got other options to ensure transparency, traceability, and sustainability, when you’re buying BC seafood.
Join a Community Supported Fishery
Skipper Otto, a member-based community supported fishery, has grown impressively over the last 10 years in Vancouver. Here’s how it works: members purchase a subscription for an annual share of the catch from approximately 30 different BC fishing families. It’s super convenient — you only choose the items you want through the online store, and pick them up at one of 13 pick-up locations around Metro Vancouver.
Skipper Otto lets fishing families earn living wages, provides a guaranteed market for their Ocean Wise catch, and provides hyper-traceable, premium quality seafood directly to people across Canada.
Unlike grocery stores, Skipper Otto labels include everything you could want to know about your fish — even including a picture and bio of the fisherman and details about when and where it was caught. And as a member, you can choose from a wide selection of wild, BC seafood from salmon to whole fish, to shrimp and prawns, to sushi grade albacore tuna, to fish and chip favourites like lingcod and halibut.
Make the change to buying only BC-caught, Ocean Wise seafood today by becoming a member of Skipper Otto. For a limited time, you can get a $10 discount off your 2019 membership when you use the code DHSeafood at the checkout.
Shop at Vancouver Farmers’ Markets
If you’re looking to buy fresh seafood locally, some Vancouver Farmers’ Markets are home to a number of reliable vendors. Blue Comet Seafoods has been popping up at markets for over 13 years and carries a selection of all five species of salmon, lingcod, tuna, halibut, and sablefish, as well as smoked and canned products.
The family-run operation promotes the catches from their three vessels which harvest along the BC coast from Haida Gwaii, Nass, Skeena, Bella Coola, Johnstone Strait, and Barkley Sound, so you can shop their produce with peace of mind.
In the same way, you can trust Estevan Tuna when you see their vendor stalls. They harvest and sell premium-quality, chilled, and flash frozen-at-sea albacore tuna that has been filleted and vacuum-packed in a HAACP approved plant (carrying both tuna loins and cans).
All of the tuna they sell is caught in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean off the coasts of BC, Washington and Oregon aboard the Estevan troller. Be sure to check out the Blue Comet Seafoods and Estevan Tuna websites to find out where they’ll be popping up next.
Visit the Steveston Public Fish Sales Float
The coastal community of Steveston is home to the largest local collection of fishermen selling directly off their boats — the Public Fish Sales Float. This is an amazing spot to buy a whole fish (frozen ones are available year-round). But remember that fishermen are not allowed to sell processed items (steaks, fillets, smoked, vacuum-sealed, etc.) on the sales float. Selling bivalve mollusks of any kind like oysters, clams, and mussels, is also strictly prohibited.
The Public Fish Sales Float is always open, but vessels and vendors come and go as they please. The best days of the week to find them are during regular business hours on Saturday and Sunday. You can get a sense of who will be selling here, but your best bet is to take a chance and go out to visit in person.
Check out False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf
Looking to visit somewhere a little closer to downtown? Stop by False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf where you’ll also find a sales float, albeit, smaller than the one you’ll find in Steveston. In general, this sales float is usually active at certain times of the year. Stop by in May and you’ll be able to make the most of prawn season as you buy prawns right off the boat.
During salmon season, you’ll find whole fresh sockeye which is sometimes available for purchase. False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf is also the main location for Skipper Otto and you’ll find them there most Thursday evenings year-round and on Saturday mornings in the summer. Fishermen’s schedules vary throughout the year, but you can view the full vendor list here.
This project is supported by the BC Government’s Buy BC Partnership Program; delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC with funding from the Government of British Columbia. Opinions expressed in this document are those of [the authors] and not necessarily those of the Government of British Columbia or the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.