FISHSTOCK 2018

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On May 14 we were pleased to host FISHSTOCK 2018 at Pj’s restaurant.  A co-production of The Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) and Ocean Wise the event was held to promote awareness about our local fisheries and to learn how to successfully incorporate Ontario lake fish into food service businesses.  Participants included local Chef’s, academics and researchers, and various other stakeholders from the food industry.

The day began with a presentation conducted by Dr. Kevin Reid of the Ontario Commercial Fisheries Association (OCFA) and Chef Ned Bell of Ocean Wise.  Dr. Reid touched on many topics during his talk including the history of commercial fishing in Ontario, the economic scope of the Great Lakes fishery, the challenges local fishers are facing, as well as the health of local lake-fish species.  Chef Bell spoke about ecosystem change, sustainability, eco-certification, and the importance of organizations like Ocean Wise and Feast On. He also emphasized that since half of the fish eaten on this planet is farmed there is a need for Chef’s to educate themselves on this controversial topic.

Next up was a hands-on fish butchery workshop lead by Chef Bell and Chef Shaun Edmonstone of Bruce Wine Bar. Participants got to work with wild caught Walleye and fresh Arctic Char that originated from the Alma Aquaculture Research Station.  The Chefs led participants on the effective ways to clean and breakdown fish to ensure minimal waste and maximum flavor.

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An industry panel discussion was held in the afternoon.  Moderated by our own Bruce McAdams panelists included Chef Ned Bell and Deidre Finn of Ocean Wise, Marvyn Budd of Planet Shrimp, Denise Purvis of Purvis Fisheries and an OCFA member, and Ron Caudle of Caudle’s Catch Seafood. The discussion touched upon many topics including the importance of consumer awareness, traceability, and the misconceptions surrounding quality of product with regards to fresh vs. frozen fish.  The consensus from the panel was that it is important for businesses to label where their fish are coming from and to educate their consumers on why it is important for them to know this information. Another hot button topic discussed was the controversy surrounding fish farms. It was stated that not all fish farms are ‘sustainable’, however products coming from Ocean Wise recommended operations can be trusted. The key is to properly educate the public on the benefits of fish farms while still respecting their opinions.

Afterwards, the guests were taken to the Alma Aquaculture Station, an aquaculture research and development facility run by the University of Guelph. Professor Rick Moccia and Dr. Marcia Chiasson shared their knowledge on topics including the production of fish on land, research done at the facility, aquaculture water systems, and genetically modified organisms (GMO). During the tour the participants were even able to see the Atlantic Char species they had filleted earlier that day!

FISHSTOCK 2018 was a great success!  Congratulations to both Ocean Wise and OCTA on providing both an educational and enjoyable day.

Alexia D’Angelo (UGSRP Research Intern)

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