How do we choose the things we buy? For many of us, certifications like Fair Trade or Organic may inform a big part of that decision. But when you’re buying directly from the people who produce the product, it’s not always that simple. At Skipper Otto, we have to consider many factors before we decide what to offer our members.
How does Skipper Otto decide what fish to offer its members?
Above all, our objective is both to protect marine ecosystems for many generations to come and to support a small-scale fishing way of life in coastal communities. But that’s no simple task! There are a ton of factors to consider, so we gather information from numerous sources:
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The DFO determines what, where, and when we are allowed to fish. Conservation is DFO’s top priority, followed by upholding food and ceremonial uses for Indigenous fishers, recreational fishing, and lastly, commercial fishing.
- Third-party watchdogs like Ocean Wise Seafood and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). These organizations keep an eye on DFO policy, to verify data, and to make recommendations about what species are the most sustainable choices for consumers.
- Independent investigations by other non-profit organizations and research by academic institutions. Fisheries science is complex and watchdog organizations don’t always have the resources to dig deep into the granular details of a specific fishery, so we also look to these groups for additional information.
- Our very own in-house Sustainable Fisheries Researcher, Jeff Scott. Jeff helps us seek out and interpret new data.
- Our fishing families. Many of the fishers we work with provide us with traditional, multi-generational knowledge, boots-on-the-deck experience, and their recommendations for what are the most sustainable fisheries out there.
Based on all this information, we first look for fisheries that are considered, across the board, to be sustainable. 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. As an example, check out 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.
This kind of robust, values-based sourcing process is totally unique to Skipper Otto, and it’s one of the things that sets us apart from other seafood providers. We feel confident that the products our fishing families harvest for our members support long-term sustainable fisheries and support a meaningful way of life in coastal communities.