Chef Tyler Shedden makes a commitment to sustainable seafood

We talk to Chef Tyler Shedden about how Canadians can make smarter choices at the fish counter...


If there’s one thing Canadians love, it’s seafood. With Toronto smack dab in the middle of Canada’s Maritime and west coast fisheries, we’ve been treated to some of the freshest salmon, cod, mussels and clams from both sides of the nation. What many might not realize is that our tasty habits can contribute to overfishing, and other destructive practices that threaten our oceans. The good news is that consumers across Canada are becoming more and more aware of their impact.

Chefs like Tyler Shedden, culinary director of the Chase Hospitality Group, are leading the charge to promote sustainability. He believes that being mindful of where our seafood comes from and how it’s caught are just two pieces of the puzzle when it comes to keeping our oceans clean. As Chef Tyler explains, “We also need to make educated choices on everything from toothpaste and soap, to how often we drive our cars. Everything seems to end up in the ocean, and we need to become socially responsible consumers to prevent it from getting worse.”

Chef Tyler Shedden, culinary director of Chase Hospitality Group

In his role as the Chase Hospitality Group’s culinary director, Chef Tyler makes a point of highlighting sustainable seafood across all of the group’s menus. Chef Tyler tells us, “I see sustainability as more of a necessity in our current global situation. All around, it’s a better system for consumers, and a better option for our environment.” The main challenge – for restaurants and consumers alike – is price point. Generally speaking, sustainably harvested seafood costs more to bring tomarket. Still, there are clear long-term benefits for consumers.

"Everything seems to end up in the ocean..."

Choosing sustainable seafood is an act of consumer power. As Chef Tyler puts it “The real work will get done when the average consumer is using their hard earned money to buy sustainable products…[since] our money speaks the loudest.” That means that diners can influence government and industry leaders by affecting what’s stocked in stores and in restaurants. If more demand and interest exists for sustainable seafood, then consumers really can rock the market. However, approximately 30% of seafood is mislabelled, according to the Marine Stewardship Council. For those trying to make responsible purchasing choices, that’s a big problem.

"It's important to ask questions and demand sustainable products be available for purchase."

If you’re trying to change your purchasing habits for the better, the best place to start is by understanding where your seafood comes from. You should also understand what sustainability means, from the water, to your plate, and beyond. Chef Tyler points out, “People need to do their homework and learn about what makes a certain piece of fish sustainable. Then, it's important to talk to the fishmonger when going to purchase any type of seafood. It’s important to ask questions and demand sustainable products be available for purchase.” So next time you’re shopping, ask yourself: what species is this? How was it raised? How was it caught? While you may not have the answers on hand, sites like Ocean Wise, WWF MSC and David Suzuki put all the information you need, including top picks and what to ask for, right at your fingertips.

The sustainable seafood movement is gaining serious momentum: in November 2015, Ocean Wise reported over 600 restaurant partners across Canada. All of these partners have signed on to a clear labelling system, which directs chefs and diners on which fish have been sustainably caught. For Canadians who want their seafood to be properly labelled, this is a huge step forward. Check the Ocean Wise website or download their app to continue to making smart choices supporting sustainable seafood.