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'Seafoodies', NGOs Renew Calls for National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - March 04, 2014) - All Canadians can play an important role in protecting the future of our fisheries and marine life, according to a group of national sustainable seafood programs, celebrity chefs and NGOs who are renewing calls to have March 18 recognized as National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada.

"Canada's -- and the world's -- oceans are in a state of crisis as a result of decades of overfishing, pollution and a changing climate," said Jay Ritchlin from the SeaChoice/David Suzuki Foundation. "With an official date supporting sustainable seafood on the national calendar, it will be much easier for Canadians from coast to coast to gain a better understanding of the role we can play in protecting our three oceans."

In 2013, a group consisting of Executive Chef Ned Bell, seafood organizations SeaChoice and Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, as well as NGOs including the David Suzuki Foundation gathered in Vancouver to advocate for the adoption of a private member's motion to mark the day.

This year, the group is also joined by Greenpeace and WWF to build on existing momentum and push for a sea change in the way we understand Canada's ocean resources.

"We haven't had a healthy relationship with our oceans for a long time. There are hundreds of available commercial species, and yet we choose to eat only a handful of them," said Chef Ned Bell, Executive Chef at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. "We simply can't have healthy people without healthy oceans -- people can't be any healthier than the environment their food comes from."

To gain more traction for the adoption of the motion in Ottawa, the group and five top chefs from across the country hosted a Parliamentary reception today that brought delicious sustainably-sourced Canadian seafood to Members of Parliament and a wide association of ocean advocates.

"One of the biggest threats to protecting biodiversity on our planet is where and how we produce food. If we don't make choices now that lead to the best possible fishing and aquaculture practices, we're running the risk of destroying natural systems that are the foundation of the economy in Canada's coastal communities," said David Miller, CEO and President of WWF-Canada.

SeaChoice, Ocean Wise, and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are the most powerful and credible players driving consumer understanding and awareness for sustainable seafood choices in Canada.

Since 2006, SeaChoice has helped consumers make choices that benefit healthy oceans and supported seafood retailers and suppliers through innovative partnerships. Initiated in 2005, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure they can base their decisions on the most current scientific information to provide smart, sustainable choices for consumers.

"We need to take immediate action now to ensure the future of seafood stocks and our oceans, and a National Sustainable Seafood Day is an important first step in involving all Canadians in this effort," says Ann-Marie Copping, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Manager. "By making responsible seafood choices, we can all work together to protect our oceans now and for future generations."

Notes to Editors

To view Fin Donnelly's private member's motion to establish March 18 as National Sustainable Seafood Day, visit http://findonnelly.ca/seafoodpetition

Supporting Organizations

Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise™: Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium's assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. www.oceanwise.ca

Greenpeace Canada: Urgent action is needed to avert a mass extinction of ocean life. Greenpeace campaigns globally for sustainable seafood markets by working with major retail, trade and fishing sector players to reduce their negative impact on marine ecosystems and coastal peoples. Greenpeace is also calling for full protection of 40 per cent of our oceans in marine reserves -- ocean sanctuaries -- to allow recovery and rebuilding. www.greenpeace.ca

WWF-Canada: WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive. www.wwf.ca.

SeaChoice: Formed in 2006, SeaChoice is a national program that provides science-based sustainability assessments of seafood and helps Canadian businesses and consumers make sustainable seafood choices. SeaChoice is a joint initiative of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society BC, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club BC. Working in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's acclaimed Seafood Watch program, SeaChoice undertakes science-based seafood assessments, provides informative resources for consumers, and supports businesses through collaborative partnerships. www.SeaChoice.org

David Suzuki Foundation: We find solutions for living within the limits of nature. Through sound science, education, research and public engagement, we motivate Canadians to take action in overcoming our shared environmental challenges. www.davidsuzuki.org

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