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Cod with a conscience

Chartwells supports local sustainable fishery

By Shannon O’Dea Dawson

Delicious cod is a traditional fish favourite in this province. And now the tastiest part is all cod served by Chartwells at Memorial University comes from the south and west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, all caught by hook and line.

Tim Hills, executive chef with Chartwells on Memorial’s campus, wanted to support a sustainable fishery and sourced cod caught with hook and line.

“The use of hook and line reduces the negative impacts of bottom trawling, namely habitat damage and high levels of bycatch,” explained Tim Hills. “We have to do all we can to support small-scale sustainable fisheries models in an effort to encourage others to do the same.”

Since the cod moratorium in 1992 when scientists reached the conclusion that 98.9 per cent of the cod stocks on the Grand Banks had been depleted in the past 30 years, alternative options have been explored.

Dr. George Rose with the Marine Institute, a well respected authority on cod, believes “we have to protect and rebuild our marine ecosystem.”

Both Dr. Rose and Mike McDermid, who runs the Ocean Wise program at the Vancouver aquarium, agreed that using the local hook and line cod would be a viable option for Chartwells at Memorial University.

Mr. Hills is proud of what Chartwells has accomplished.

“We are able to take the lead in supporting the local economy as well as provide fresh and frozen sustainable cod to all of our students and guests,” he said. “We currently serve about 5,000 pounds of non-breaded or battered cod annually. Serving the local product would save us approximately $1.43 per pound while supporting the local, sustainably managed fishery. This is win-win and we’ve only just begun.”

Further research is being conducted by the Marine Institute at Memorial in joint venture with the Centre for Fishery Innovation, the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and FFAW/CAW.

Currently, a new type of cod pot fishery that enables cod to be harvested alive with little of no mortality to the fish and any associated bycatch is being developed. This allows the small cod to be safely released and allowed to grow and reproduce.

“Customers can demand sustainable seafood,” concluded Mr. Hills. “We can all help create a market for sustainable products that will influence the fishermen and farmers to become more commercially sustainable. Everyone plays a role in making the world more sustainable.”

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