Our 2022 Rockfish Sourcing Strategy

Jeff - March 28, 2022

We put a lot of thought into deciding what species to offer our members every year. And we gather information every year from numerous sources to make sure all our offerings are coming from the most sustainable fisheries in BC.

It’s where there is disagreement that we need to dig deeper to find more information that allows us to make decisions that prioritize the health of people and the planet. Last year, we developed our 2021 rockfish sourcing strategy where we go into great detail about why we feel that providing members with certain rockfish species is a sustainable choice. Prior to 2021 we had only sourced four species that carried the Ocean Wise “Recommended” label, but we were curious why so few of the 61 rockfish species in BC had that designation. After reading through stacks of scientific reports and consulting a handful of experts from academia, non-profits, and government, we developed our own criteria for deciding which species we’re comfortable sourcing. You can read the full blog post here, but the main takeaways were:

Management of rockfish in BC is strict and robust

Despite our strong concerns about the socio-economic impacts of the system’s individual transferable quotas (see our blog posts here and here for more info on ITQs), Skipper Otto recognizes that the management system for bottom-dwelling fish in BC places hard limits on the amount of each species that a fishing boat can legally catch. This, along with strict enforcement of the rules, gives fishermen a strong incentive to avoid any rockfish species of concern.

There are two main reasons why more rockfish species aren’t Ocean Wise Recommended

First, there are few rockfish species that have been scientifically assessed by DFO. Without hard data to base conclusions on, Ocean Wise recommendations take a precautionary approach and place more weight on the biological factors that make these long-lived, slow-growing species susceptible to overfishing. Less weight is placed on the robust management system that limits their exploitation, meaning most rockfish in BC are Ocean Wise “Not Recommended”.

And second, there is a lag between the publication of new science and updated recommendations from Ocean Wise. A handful of species have been shown to be in healthy condition after recent DFO assessments, but this good news isn’t yet accounted for by Ocean Wise.

Skipper Otto is comfortable buying and selling 7 species of rockfish

After considering Ocean Wise recommendations, recent science from DFO, and the listings of some species on SARA Schedule 1, Skipper Otto decided we would buy and sell the following seven rockfish species in 2021:

Canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger)

Ocean Wise “Recommended”

Pacific Ocean Perch (Sebastes alutus)

Ocean Wise “Not Recommended;” but there is strong evidence from recent DFO stock assessments that all stocks in BC waters are healthy

Redstripe rockfish (Sebastes proriger)

Ocean Wise “Not Recommended;” but there is strong evidence from recent DFO stock assessments that all stocks in BC waters are healthy

Silvergray rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis)

Ocean Wise “Recommended”

Widow rockfish (Sebastes entomelas)

Ocean Wise “Not Recommended;” but there is strong evidence from a recent DFO stock assessment that the stock in BC waters is healthy

Yellowmouth rockfish (Sebastes reedi)

Ocean Wise “Recommended”

Yellowtail rockfish (Sebastes flavidus)

Ocean Wise “Recommended”

So what’s new with rockfish for 2022?

Well, not much, actually! We revisited our rockfish list this year to see whether anything has changed that would cause us to reassess which species we’re comfortable buying and selling. After reviewing the scientific literature from recent months, though, we found no new evidence that would lead us to consider either adding new species to our list or removing any of the current seven. So we’re sticking with our sourcing strategy for the time being, patiently awaiting further assessments of rockfish populations to base our decisions on. Our hope is that DFO continues to evaluate more rockfish species with more sophisticated statistical methods, so that we can know with greater certainty the status of these fish, and possibly offer more variety to our members in the future—all while giving our fishermen an appreciative market for their bycatch.

 

Jeff - March 28, 2022


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Our 2022 Rockfish Sourcing Strategy

Jeff - March 28, 2022

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