Sablefish in a pen at Gindara's site in Kyuquot Sound, Vancouver Island. Image taken from Gindara Sablefish video.

Sablefish farmer becomes Canada’s first net-pen Seafood Watch Best Choice

A sablefish producer has become the first marine finfish farmer in Canada to be awarded a Best Choice rating by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch programme.

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Gindara Sablefish produces its fish in partnership with the Kyuquot-Checleseht First Nations in Kyuquot Sound on the north west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

“The process for a Seafood Watch rating is thorough and includes a detailed analysis of all aspects of farming, a methodical peer review process, and data verification using independent sources,” said the company’s sustainability director, Claire Li, in a press release.

Claire Li: "This rating validates our efforts to care for our oceans." Photo: Gindara Sablefish.

“We have always prioritised our ocean ecosystem in which we operate and have strived to keep it as healthy as possible. This rating validates our efforts to care for our oceans, and we are proud to share this.”

460 tonnes in 2019

Gindara Sablefish says it is the only company globally that raises sablefish (black cod) from egg to harvest.

The company, which has been in operation since 2014, has a maximum stocking density of 10kg/m³ and produced 460 tonnes of fish in 2019. It says it feeds its fish low quantities of wild fish in order to take as little from the ocean as possible. It supplements the marine content of its feed with trimmings from fish used for human consumption, a method also seen in salmon farming.

Gindara doesn’t have a problem with sea lice, and doesn’t use antibiotics. It adds that it is “mindful of cultivating a non-genetically modified, native species to British Columbia”.

Sablefish pioneers 

Gindara president Terry Brooks: "I am extremely proud of our team." Photo: Gindara Sablefish.

“As pioneers of sablefish aquaculture, I am extremely proud of our team at the farm and hatchery who have conducted all the research, development, and daily work that goes into producing this sustainable fish,” said president Terry Brooks, who has been perfecting sablefish farming for 20 years.

The company’s marketing chief, Don Read, said: “Sustainability is a critical issue, and we must ensure our wild and farmed sources of seafood do not reduce the balance of nature.

“With a Best Choice endorsement, chefs, restaurants, retailers and consumers can be confident that Gindara Sablefish is a sustainable, and delicious source of seafood, with minimal impact on its environment.”

Gindara’s Best Choice rating is one better than net-pen salmon produced in BC, which is classed as a Good Alternative. Salmon grown in Orkney in Scotland, Maine in the United States, the Faroe Islands, Norldland in Norway (Blue Circle Foods), and Chile (Verlasso) are also classed as Good Alternatives.

Only one net-pen Atlantic salmon brand, Nordic Blu, grown in Skjerstad fjord in northern Norway, qualifies for the Best Choice rating.