The Australian Conservation Foundation is developing a new and exciting sustainable living initiative called Ocean Wise Australia.
Based on the successful Canadian Ocean Wise program launched by Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Wise Australia aims to increase the awareness of Australian seafood consumers regarding sustainable seafood.
Leading Canadian chef Robert Clark recently brought the sustainability message to Australia in March as guest of the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
As executive chef at Canada’s leading seafood restaurant, C Restaurant in Vancouver, Robert Clark believes that he not only has to be responsible about the food choices he makes but that he can also inspire change in the industry. “As chefs, our job is not only about serving great tasting food, but encouraging our staff and our guests to learn how to get sustainably produced food to the table” said Clark.
Recent reports reveal the number of overfished Australian fish species has increased 8-fold over the past decade, highlighting the urgent need to better protect Australia’s oceans. “Unfortunately, overfished species like orange roughy and swordfish are still finding their way onto Australian dinner tables” said Chris Smyth, ACF’s Marine Campaign Coordinator.
International marine scientists predict that if current seafood practices continue, the world’s fisheries could collapse in less than 50 years. Couple this with the impacts from fisheries catching non targeted species (by-catch) and seabed trawling, water pollution, marine pests, habitat damage, ocean-based aquaculture and climate change – and a clear picture emerges that Australia’s ocean life is under increasing pressure.
However, Seafood that is sourced within the natural limits of the marine environment and with minimal damage to marine habitats can be called ‘sustainable seafood’. By working with restaurants and their diners, Ocean Wise will help maintain the variety and abundance of seafood in Australia and promote healthy oceans used in a sustainable way.
The Ocean Wise Australia program will provide the opportunity for the Australian restaurant industry to choose sustainable seafood menu items, while recognizing its ongoing commitment to excellence and progressive business practices.
The Ocean Wise Australia menu assessment program will also give restaurants the confidence to improve the sustainability of their menus, at a pace that suits the individual business, and will promote and reward their efforts in doing so.
“The decisions each of us make when we purchase seafood have a real impact on the health of our ocean life and fisheries. This is where the restaurant industry can play a vital leadership role and help reverse the trends” said Smyth.
Source: ACF Campaign
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