We’re Hiring a Logistics Delivery Driver!

Afishionado is a community-minded fishmongers that is dedicated to bringing the fishing traditions of Nova Scotia back to the plates of consumers. For us, knowing the story behind the fish we sell is important. We follow Ocean Wise www.oceanwise.ca/ certification as our main guide, a classification that ensures responsibility to a fishery’s abundance and catch method. Any Afishionado products that don’t have that certification, such as our wild Atlantic halibut and cod, are fished using hook and line caught methods. As much as possible we maintain close relationships with those who catch our fish, and work hard to help foster a fair, transparent and sustainable exchange of seafood in the Maritimes from the ocean all the way to your plate. We are looking to add a dedicated delivery driver to our team.

 

Salary $15.00/hr, 35 hours a week

Hours Tuesday – Friday, hours will vary

Terms of Employment: Full Time

Work Conditions: Fast-paced environment, physically demanding, must be able to lift 50 lbs.

Work Location: Based in Halifax, driving to different parts of the Maritimes regularly.

Driver’s license required. Various Locations

 

Job Brief: We are looking for an enthusiastic and responsible individual to promote Afishionado products to existing and potential restaurant customers. This will require distributing products promptly and safely to Afishionado customers while providing them with exceptional customer experience. You will also be responsible for retrieving product from suppliers throughout the Maritimes. You will represent Afishionado in a professional and knowledgeable manner with the aim to supplying HRM restaurants and individuals with the best sustainably sourced seafood available.

 

Qualifications: Knowledge/Experience

 

• Valid driver’s license and clean driving record. Must have been driving for 5 + years.

• Restaurant/Retail or food service experience as asset.

• Capacity to use Excel, Word and basic software set up functions, data entry.

• Regular driving experience.

 

Skills/Abilities

 

• Excellent organizational and time management skills

• Basic math skills

• Excellent oral and written communication skills by telephone, in written form, e-mail, in person and text

• Excellent interpersonal skills

• Performing physical activities

• Ability to work autonomously

• Ability to lift 50 lbs

 

Responsibilities

 

• Plan out route daily and adapt plan to account for changes in schedule that arise during the day.

• Communicate with suppliers and headquarters about last minute pick ups and drop offs.

• Communicate with courier services, when needed.

• Load, unload, prepare, inspect and operate delivery van.

• Perform pre trip, en route and post-trip inspection and oversee all aspects of vehicle.

• Complete logs and reports: including temperature logs and vehicle maintenance logs.

 

Such other tasks as may be assigned by Afishionado from time to time. Apply with a Cover Letter and Resume to hello@afishionado.ca

Oyster of the Month: Foxley River

This month’s featured oyster for our monthly Oyster Box Club was none other than the Foxley River. This is a beloved oyster by all, not only for its creaminess and delicate balance of sweet and salty, but for its perfectly formed shape, deep cup, full meat, and shuck- ability.

In the words of Martin O’Brien (one of the main growers behind the whole operation!):

“…they are a cocktail oyster that are 3-4 years old. Tumbled to encourage thickness and round shape.  We don’t harvest early just because “they reached market length”, we wait it out an extra 1-2 years so that they are at peak maturity and meatiness. Because of this, they’re extremely easy to shuck! They’re grown using off-bottom cage culture by the O’Brien family in Foxley River, which is part of the Cascumpec Bay river system.  Our lease is near a peat-bog which gives our oysters a [insert flavour notes here] and has a nice salty taste, but not too much.”

Foxley River oysters hail from the Cascumpec Bay Oyster Company , a family run business in operation since 2007. The farm was originally started by Pat and Darlene O’Brien but was expanded on when Martin and Matt teamed up in 2015. Since then, they have added a few more independent growers to the roster, Ryan Leclair, an electrician by trade, and Aaron Sweet who has deep familial roots on the Island.

Martin O’Brien alongside Matt Morgan on the farm.
Ryan Leclair, tending to his oysters in the rich waters near Cascumpec Bay.

 

Pat and Marlene O’Brien, the original farmers and choosiest oyster graders.
Aaron Sweet tending to his Sweet Select oyster lease.

An excellent oyster, the Foxley River is wonderful whether you’re a beginner in the oyster consumption world or a complete expert. Want to sign up for our OYSTER OF THE MONTH CLUB? Just check it out on our Monthly Subscription Page.

 

 

Seasons are changing – and so are we, here at Afishionado

Over the course of the last year, maintaining Catch of the Week as a premiere first subscription service has become a challenge. 

  • Recently, the availability of fresh-caught, local, wild species has been declining. 
  • Access to large, pelagic fish that have been caught using a method we support has been an issue.
  • The logistics of serving multiple communities spread across the Maritimes has proven difficult

However, it’s not all bad news! Shellfish aquaculture is at an exciting time here in Nova Scotia – seeing unprecedented knowledge in the industry and consumer interest. As you know, our fearless leader Hana is part of an oyster farming family, and we are seeing families like hers lead the province into a more sustainable future. 

We are also sourcing fish from new places, where fishers and farmers are doing things right. For example, we’ve found haddock from a rural part of Newfoundland that is caught through a method we support. The haddock is caught as by-catch from a directed, ocean wise recommended fishery. However, because of the logistics of buying from a rural community, the fish needs to be frozen upon landing to maintain a high quality. High quality frozen fish is becoming increasingly common – including our British Columbia sockeye salmon, and Indonesian yellowfin tuna – so why not just give our customers the frozen fish? This allows you to decide when to thaw and consume it!

We want to provide the highest quality seafood anywhere in Atlantic Canada and to do this we’ve decided to change our subscription model and include these foundations:

  • High quality frozen seafood, from sustainable fisheries on a monthly basis
  • By buying in bulk, and processing into individually frozen portions at our plant, we can decrease costs for our customers. We want you to know exactly how much each fish costs in the box. By buying in bulk, as part of a Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) program, you’re actually getting each fish portion for a discounted rate!
  • A frozen supply chain simplifies logistics and reduces waste.  
  • Convenient portions are a perfectly easy way to add protein to your diet for you and your family. 

The case for frozen

In reality, “fresh – never -frozen” fish does not actually taste better than flash-frozen fish. In fact, frozen fish may be better for your tastebuds, wallet, and the health of our oceans and fishing communities. 

You have probably heard that fresh is always better – from fishmongers and chefs to the branding on mass produced seafood products – however in the global seafood supply chain, “fresh fish” is often much less fresh than advertised. Seafood is shipped long distances, where it sits on fishing boats, distribution centres, loading docks, trucks, and warehouses before it gets to market – leading to not so fresh fish. When seafood travels between so many middlemen on its route to your plate, there is a higher risk of transparency issues like mislabelling and fraud. 

By freezing their catch, small-scale fishers can preserve the high-quality of their fish instead of exporting it to the lowest bidder before it goes bad. Consumers are able to access any fish any time, regardless of the season, and fishers are able to sell directly to consumers or companies like us rather than large distributors who pay pennies-per-pound. Freezing our fish also allows us to shop around, finding the best prices, highest quality and buying in bulk.

 

But what about Oysters?

As our business has grown, we have become a more important player in the shellfish community. After all, Hana is part of a shellfish farming family. We’d like to celebrate these roots, and those of our hardworking fishing and farming families, by starting an Oyster of The Month Club. 

Oyster of the Month is our way of offering you oysters directly from farms across the Maritimes, and provides an avenue to tell the story of the fishing and farming families that are doing things right. We want to foster a connection between you and our oyster producers.

St. Simon oysters from Shippagan, NB, photo by Jess Emin

Catch of the Month Club – how it works

Joining the Catch of the Month Club for $10 a year allows you to subscribe to monthly seafood boxes, get first access to our specials, and invitations to quarterly shucking workshops, tastings, tours, and special events. The $10 membership pays for the platform used to host these bonuses, and focus on supporting fishing families and fostering a community where sustainable seafood practices thrive. In return, customers become part of the sustainable fishing and farming community here in Nova Scotia. 

Signing up for a frozen box means that you will control what is in your box, know exactly what you are getting, and how it is discounted. It also means that you only have to pick up your share once a month, while continuing to receive incredible tasting seafood in the same quantity as before. And like always, skip your box delivery any time before it renews!

Seafood Boxes

Oyster club ($75 or $140 per month)

Oyster club directly supports oyster families, and allows you to receive a discounted price for buying in bulk. High in zinc and magnesium, oysters are great for parties, and actually last for several weeks in your fridge!

  • 50 or 100 oysters per month (one type)
  • Information about the oyster farm: taste profile, farmer bio, shape, location, story, etc.
  • Information about oysters in general
  • Extra add ons available such as shuckers and mignonettes

    The ShanDaph crew at the Halifax Oysterfest 2017

Fit Fish ($60)

Fit Fish includes white fish and red fish – which are high in omega 3’s! Great for families, or anyone who enjoys a variety of fin fish. 

  • 2 lb red fish, 2 lb white fish
  • 6-8 portions (8 oz – 1 lb portions)
  • Portions may include: Arctic char, Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, smoked salmon, steelhead trout, tuna, Hake, pollock, haddock, halibut cheeks, halibut fillet

    Fit Fish is a great mix of redfish and whitefish!

School of Fish ($45)

Our most affordable box, School of Fish is a great way to ensure your family gets enough protein! This box includes only white fish – more mild fish that are great for soaking up seasoning and sauces. 

  • 4 lb of white fish
  • 6-8 portions (8 oz – 1 lb portions)
  • Portions may include: Hake, pollock, haddock, cusk, cod, halibut cheeks, halibut fillet
     

Plenty of (shell)Fish Box ($60)

Our most diverse box, Plenty of (shell)Fish offers a little bit of everything – great for those that like shellfish, enjoy cooking, or eat a lot of chowder.

  • 2 lb shellfish, 2 lb fish
    6-8 portions (8 oz – 1 lb portions) 
  • Portions may include: Arctic char, atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, smoked salmon, steelhead trout, tuna, Hake, pollock, haddock, halibut cheeks, halibut fillet, cod, coldwater shrimp, black tiger shrimp, white shrimp, scallops, crab meats 

ShanDaph Aquaculture is hiring summer students!

ShanDaph Aquaculture is an environmentally sustainable, organic aquaculture operation, located in Big Island, Nova Scotia.

The boutique operation grows primarily oysters, as well as bay scallops and quahogs, in the Northumberland Strait waters of Atlantic Canada. ShanDaph Oysters focuses on providing consistently high quality, fresh shellfish. Only the plumpest, tastiest shellfish with consistent size and shape are harvested for an exciting gourmet experience.

ShanDaph promotes environmentally sound practices. Shellfish are grown from seed and harvested in a natural setting. They are packaged onsite in a Federally-registered, solar-powered facility, the only one in Atlantic Canada.

ShanDaph is hiring one co-op student, and one CLEAN Leadership summer intern!

TO APPLY: Please send a resume and coverletter to philip@shandaph.com or apply at www.cleanleadership.ca

DEADLINE MARCH 17, 2019

Shellfish farm Technician – Co-op placement

Terms of Employment

16 week co-op placement, 40 hours a week,  $15/hour

 

Work Conditions

Fast-paced environment, physically demanding, working outdoors most of the day

 

Work Location:

Big Island, Nova Scotia at our Shellfish Aquaculture site

 

Job Brief:

We are looking for an enthusiastic, responsible, and hard-working individual to fill the position of Shellfish Farm Technician. The position will entail full time hours working on site, at one of our two aquaculture leases, working within our federally registered shellfish processing facility, reporting on and measuring the effectiveness of new technologies and processes for a shellfish husbandry.

  1. This position will entail a keen willingness to be outdoors, on the water, and involved in all aspects of shellfish husbandry, harvesting and processing;
  1. The incumbent will be required to swim for shellfish, harvest from a boat, de-foul shellfish, sort, tumbling and grading oysters.
  1. The husbandry component involves managing various shellfish grow out apparatus and determining best husbandry practice for optimal growth;
  1. The position will assist in measuring the effectiveness of new technologies for shellfish husbandry, including data collection and qualitative research and reporting;
  1. Data collection for various environmental monitoring for temperature, salinity measurements, turbidity;
  1. The incumbent, based on skill set will be required to design and repair husbandry and growth equipment as required;
  1. A willingness to adjust weekly work hours based on the tides and activities being carried out on the farm.

 

Background and Qualifications

  1. Student in the field of marine Biology, Environmental engineering, Environmental Resource Management or other such field.
  2. The ability to be outdoors in a wet environment, for most of the day.
  3. A Canadian boating license, or equivalent.
  4. First aid certificate (long course).
  5. An independent worker who can autonomously complete tasks.
  6. Technical capacity and experience in design, prototyping and build out new equipment. CAD experience at asset.

** Farm is located in a rural area, personal transportation to and from farm will be needed. (You will need a car.)

 

Shellfish farm Technician – CLEAN Leadership 

 

Terms of Employment

16 week placement, 40 hours a week,  $14/hour

 

Work Conditions

Fast-paced environment, physically demanding, working outdoors most of the day

 

Work Location:

Big Island, Nova Scotia at our Shellfish Aquaculture site

 

Job Brief:

We are looking for an enthusiastic, responsible, and hard-working individual to fill the position of Shellfish Farm Technician. The position will entail full time hours working on site, at one of our two aquaculture leases, working within our federally registered shellfish processing facility, reporting on and measuring the effectiveness of new technologies and processes for a shellfish husbandry.

  1. This position will entail a keen willingness to be outdoors, on the water, and involved in all aspects of shellfish husbandry, harvesting and processing;
  1. The incumbent will be required to swim for shellfish, harvest from a boat, de-foul shellfish, sort, tumbling and grading oysters;
  1. The husbandry component involves managing various shellfish grow out apparatus and determining best husbandry practice for optimal growth;
  1. The position will assist in measuring the effectiveness of new technologies for shellfish husbandry, including data collection and qualitative research and reporting;
  1. Data collection for various environmental monitoring for temperature, salinity measurements, turbidity;
  1. The incumbent, based on skill set will be required to design and repair husbandry and growth equipment as required;
  1. A willingness to adjust weekly work hours based on the tides and activities being carried out on the farm.

 

Background and Qualifications

  1. Student in the field of marine Biology, Environmental engineering, Environmental Resource Management or other such field.
  2. The ability to be outdoors in a wet environment, for most of the day.
  3. A Canadian boating license, or equivalent.
  4. First aid certificate (long course).
  5. An independent worker who can autonomously complete tasks.
  6. Technical capacity and experience in design, prototyping and build out new equipment. CAD experience at asset.

** Farm is located in a rural area, personal transportation to and from farm will be needed. (You will need a car.)

We’re hiring a CLEAN Leadership Summer Intern!

As the shape of the job market changes and the demand for innovation increases, Nova Scotia needs youth who are literate in environmental and sustainability issues and jobs that thrive in a low-carbon economy. Clean Foundation is helping youth develop a career path focused on this by providing them with the resources and tools to move confidently into the workforce as skilled, knowledgeable leaders.

How? Through the innovative Clean Leadership summer program. Clean Leadership is a sustainability-focused youth employment program that has produced thousands of graduates over its decades-long lifespan who are committed environmental leaders.

We’re proud to be participating this summer as host employer, and we’re excited to hire our summer intern who will be joining our team as a Sustainable Seafood Intern.

Summary of Position

The community partner for this Summer Student Intern position through the Clean Leadership program will be Afishionado Fishmongers, reporting to Laurie Starr. In this position, you will be mainly responsible for assisting with day to day logistics of the Warehouse Market, a bustling farmer’s market, food hub, and logistical HQ for Afishionado Fishmongers, located in the heart of Halifax’s North End. A typical day may involve assisting with setting up the farmers’ market, interacting with clients to provide information on the sustainability of seafood, helping pack wholesale orders, communicating with the Afishionado driver and partner courier companies to get orders on the road, engaging and completing sales, diving into the literature of seafood sustainability, and jumping in to assist with deliveries where required.

This is seafood sustainability in action. As a sustainable seafood social enterprise, Afishionado is actively disrupting the unsustainable commodity market by providing high-value alternative markets for small-scale community-based seafood harvesters. As an Afishionado intern, your actions directly contribute to the building of a seafood movement in Halifax and beyond that promotes seafood sustainability, traceability, transparency, and the story of where our seafood comes from.

The successful candidate should have a keen interest in the local and sustainable food and seafood movement, and be motivated to apply concepts of sustainability into practical projects by interacting with resources, food products, clients, and customers on a day-to-day basis. The candidate should have an insatiable appetite for staying on top of the most up-to-date seafood sustainability reports, be comfortable with task management and prioritization, deal with a wide variety of constantly shifting responsibilities, be a self-starter not afraid to take action where required, and be extremely comfortable dealing directly with the public.

 

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist with the management of the Warehouse Market farmers’ market on a day-to-day basis, including interacting with the public, engaging in sales, and maintaining appropriate stock levels;
  • Deliver seafood to restaurants in Annapolis Valley and the South Shore
  • Take and record orders when necessary or direct wholesale customers to our wholesale manager;
  • Organize and dispatch orders outside of the HRM through our Courier partners;
  • Deal directly with the public and customers at the Warehouse farmer’s market;
  • Collect payments and invoice from mobile device at the Warehouse farmer’s market;
  • Inform customers about new products and services;
  • Research and learn detailed information about the goods and services provided by Afishionado, including up to date reports on their sustainability;
  • Direct feedback and questions to supervisors, as needed, and resolve complaints where possible;
  • Load, unload, prepare, inspect and operate delivery van where required;
  • Participate in public events and expos as a front line Afishionado representative;
  • Work with supervisor to determine a project subject, culminating in a final project report in August;
  • Participate in two sustainable seafood reviews to ensure continued improvement of knowledge related to seafood sustainability;
  • Other tasks that may be assigned by Afishionado as required.

 

Requirements/Qualifications


Specific requirements and minimum qualifications required to successfully perform the job. These are the qualifications that are necessary for someone to be considered for the position.

  • Must be a Canadian citizen or legally entitled to work in Canada;
  • Must be between the ages of 18 and 30;
  • Must be a full-time student and intending to return to school in fall 2019;
  • Is not a member of immediate family of community partner;
  • Have an aptitude for safe work practices and the ability to multi-task in a busy work environment;
  • Be able to work productively as part of a team while responding to feedback;
  • Demonstrates interest in future employment in the environmental or ‘green’ sector is considered an asset;
  • Valid driver’s license and clean driving record. Must have been driving for 3+ years;
  • Regular driving experience, with previous insurance;
  • Restaurant/Retail or food service experience;
  • Capacity to use Excel, Word and basic software set up functions, data entry;
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills;
  • Basic math skills;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills by telephone, in written form, e-mail, in person and text;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work autonomously

 

Working Conditions / Physical Requirements

  • Ability to safely and legally operate a motor vehicle, with a full license;
  • Ability to lift 45 lbs

 

Apply Now

Send your cover letter and CV to hello@afishionado.ca

Deadline March 15

We’re Hiring a Warehouse Market Specialist!

The Warehouse Market is hiring!

Located in a converted industrial building in the heart of North End Halifax, the Warehouse Market is a thriving local food hub.

We are searching for someone who is organized, enjoys a lot of interaction with customers and is passionate about selling high quality, real food.

The Warehouse is a collaborative initiative of Holdanca Farm (pastured meat); Afishionado (seafood); and Abundant Acres (produce). It has grown over the last 2 years, and we expect it will grow even more.

This position requires an ability to handle just about every aspect of running a store:

Qualifications:

  • Knowledge/Experience
  • Retail experience an asset
  • Knowledge of food and food systems an asset

Skills/Abilities:

  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to work autonomously
  • Ability to lift 45 lb

Responsibilities:

  • Collect payments via cash and card from customers
  • Direct customers in Farm Share and Catch of the Week pick-up
  • Re-stock products as needed
  • Communicate with all three primary vendors regarding stock status of products, and customers’ questions.
  • Help grow the market, especially on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Maintain a clean and friendly atmosphere
  • Help fine tune WH Market checklist and SOPs
  • Such other tasks as may be assigned by the WH Market from time to time.

This job will be 28-35 hrs/week, permanent, with pay of $15/hr. We are hoping to hire by the first week of March.

To apply:

Please email a cover letter and CV to hello@afishionado.ca with subject line:
WHMarketSpecialistApplication_YourName

Know Your Tuna

When you think ‘tuna’, what comes to mind? Likely flakey fish in a can or mom’s tuna salad sandwiches. At Afishionado, we want you to know that tuna are wonderfully diverse. There are 15 different species of tuna. Tuna are truly extraordinary; some species can swim as fast as 75km/hr and migrate thousands of kilometres every year. I once showed a friend a photo of a 700 pound tuna caught off the coast of Nova Scotia and was surprised to hear “THAT’S A TUNA?!, I thought they were small!”. Nope, weights range from 73lbs in Skipjack Tuna 1472lbs in Bluefin. They’re big, bold and beautiful!

Unfortunately, tuna harvested for consumption are often caught unsustainably. One of the most common capture methods is by using a purse seine net, where two boats use a net to encircle an entire group of fish, catching everything in the area. Another method involves floating lines that trail with thousands of baited hooks, also known as longlining. Both of these methods catch massive amounts of fish at once, even fish other than the target species. The non-target species caught in a fishery are called “bycatch”. In the case of tuna fisheries, common bycatch includes other large fish species, like sharks, and sea turtles.

At Afishionado, we only sell tuna caught from healthy stocks by surface trolling, where there is no significant damage to other species or young tuna populations. Catching younger tuna can devastate populations in mass scale fisheries, by removing a generation before they are able to reproduce. We also sell tuna that has been caught as bycatch. Bycatch is an unfortunate reality in many fisheries. However, dealing with tuna caught as bycatch helps us to gain momentum in the industry, so that we can make a larger impact towards increasing the sustainability of fisheries.

If you’re looking for an oppor-tuna-ty for culinary delight, the most commonly consumed species are yellowfin, skipjack, albacore, bigeye and unfortunately, bluefin, which is endangered. Here’s some information to help you get to know each species in more detail:


1. Skipjack Tuna
Katsuwonus pelamis

 

 

 

 

 

Characteristics

  • Live up to 4 years
  • Grow up to 3.5′ long
  • Weigh up to 73lbs

Food Uses

  • Canned

FYI

  • Skipjack are a smaller tuna and is typically canned. So when you’re thinking ‘mom’s tuna sandwiches’, this is your guy!

2. Yellowfin Tuna
Thunnus albacares

 

 

 

 

Characteristics

  • Live up to 7 years
  • Grow up to 6.7′ long
  • Weigh up to 427lbs

Food Uses

  • Steaks
  • Saku Blocks

FYI

  • Yellowfin is one of Afishionados most popular tuna products, sold as steaks (pictured above) and saku blocks.
  • Our Yellowfin comes from ANOVA Seafood and an Indonesian fishery that is part of the Living & Fishing This project was established by ANOVA, in cooperation with NGOs and aims to improve fisheries management. The main objective is to increase the capacity of the fishing communities involved, preserving their traditional livelihood and to keep Yellowfin populations healthy. This yellowfin is caught using a handline. Handline fishing has almost no bycatch and low environmental impact.

3. Albacore Tuna
Thunnus alaunga

Characteristics

  • Live up to 7 years
  • Grow up to 4.3′ long
  • Weigh up to 88lbs

Food Uses

  • Canned
  • Steaks

FYI

  • Albacore is another one of Afishionados most popular tuna products. Our Albacore loins come from Organic Ocean, a West Coast company established by independent fishermen looking to strike a balance between their traditional way of life and fisheries impacts.
  • These tuna are caught off the coast of Haida Gwaii, from healthy, well-managed populations.
  • Albacore has the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids of all tunas and is considered to have a more delicate and melt-in-the-mouth flavour than other tunas.

4. Bigeye Tuna
Thunnus obesus

Characteristics

  • Live up to 10 years
  • Grow up to 7.5′ long
  • Weigh up to 462lbs

Food Uses

  • Steaks
  • Sushi

FYI

  • Bigeye has similar qualities as Yellowfin and Albacore, but they can grow much larger! Bigeye tuna steaks were featured in a September 2017 Catch of the Week. However, Afishionado only deals with Bigeye tuna caught as bycatch at this time.

5. Bluefin Tuna
Thunnus thynnus

Characteristics

  • Live up to 15 years
  • Grow up to 9.8′ long
  • Weigh up to 1472lbs

Food Uses

  • Sushi

FYI

  • Bluefin tuna are without a doubt, the king of all tunas. They swim the fastest and travel the furthest, and thus are appropriately nicknamed “The Ferraris of the Ocean”
  • Unfortunately, these giants are endangered. Poor fisheries management has led to years of unsustainable quota, causing a significant depletion of stocks. The high value of this fish may contribute to inefficient fisheries management; some are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars!
  • We want you to recognize the beauty of the Bluefin, but please don’t eat them in your sushi!

 

Brandin’ the Bugs

Article: Hana Nelson
Illustration: Scott K MacDonald

How do you make an arthropod world famous? Well, you could brand it. Nova Scotia is certainly committed to the cause.

Nova Scotia recently revealed a provincial seafood brand, and the federal government just granted $325 million to spur innovation in Atlantic Canadian fisheries. Stephen McNeil hinted that a portion of the funds could help create an Atlantic Canadian seafood brand.

Branding poses tremendous opportunities and challenges for our coastal communities. Could it promote price fairness and stability? How can the iconic lobster serve as an economic buoy for our coastal communities? Could a brand promote and protect the province’s owner-operator fishing fleet? How can we rally around lobster to make the world celebrate the quality of Nova Scotia’s seafood?

With landings and sales booming across the province, it’s no wonder there’s an effort to maximize the resource’s value. These are good times after all. In 2016, Canada exported almost a billion kilograms of live lobster and Nova Scotia’s lobster exports were worth just under a billion dollars. But let’s not get carried away. Lobster catches, quality and prices ebb and flow like the ecology of the ecosystems they live in. Only three years ago, the lobster industry was in a slump, with politicians and industry stakeholders meeting in Halifax for the Lobster Value Recovery Summit.

Graeme Gawn, president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU) Local 9 in Southwest Nova Scotia, is interested in optimizing the value of the region’s lobster. “We’re interested in adding value to our product and working in partnership with the buying side of the industry to try to get premium prices for quality lobster,” says Gawn. “We’re all about quality.” Prices that reflect seasonality and quality could give an alternative to lobster fishers who often have to hold onto their product until market prices improve.

The brand could also spur cooperation amongst the mostly independent lobster fleet, and instill more pride in the product. “The pricing system should reflect lobster quality,” says Kevin Squires, president of Cape Breton’s MFU Local 6. “Getting an average price for anything we throw in the crate is hardly an incentive to deliver the best quality possible.”

How will branding impact coastal communities? One thing is clear: the brand will certainly benefit from the romantic imagery of small boats and coastal communities. The independent owner-operator fleet still makes up most of Nova Scotia’s lobster fishing effort. The lobster fishery is integral to many other fisheries in Nova Scotia, including haddock, tuna, halibut, scallops and herring. Small-scale fishers work year-round.

Squires believes in cooperation because “it allows current players to be successful, while avoiding the need for industry consolidation.” If a unified brand will represent our lobster, then we need protective regulations along with it. This should mean enforcing Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s owner-operator policy, a policy created to protect the independence of the inshore fishery and which, if enforced, could make it more affordable for the next generation to enter the fishery.

Lobstering is a different game now. Kevin Squires bought a lobster licence for 25 cents in the 1970s. There is limited entry to the fishery now, and licences can cost more than a house. Evan Baker, a 27-year-old owner-operator from East Jeddore, is an exception. Thirty years younger than the industry average, he knows the recent boom might not last. “I don’t see it going up forever. It’s got to level out or go down at some point.” He fishes halibut and herring outside his short lobster season to stay resilient.

Our lobster is world class. A well-structured lobster brand offers an opportunity to promote the independent fleet that so many of our coastal communities and fisheries rely on. There’s no better time to work co-operatively, focus on quality and create fair prices for fishermen and processors alike.

Originally posted in Local Connections, June 10, 2017

http://localconnections.ca/home/nova-scotia-lobster

The Importance of Our Ocean

Our oceans are full of wonder, beauty, diversity, and mystery making them arguably one of the most intriguing ecosystems on Earth. However, if you do not live in proximity to the ocean or have spent time exploring it, its importance may be overlooked. Out of sight, out of mind right?

On Thursday, June 8th, 2017 the world will be celebrating World Oceans Day! Here in Halifax, Nova Scotia we will be also celebrating Oceans Week from June 2-11th. There will be plenty of exciting ocean themed events being carried out in the city and the province. To check out a full list of events click here. Afishionado will also be at the Maritime Museum for the Ocean + You event on June 2nd from 10am-3pm offering a fun, traditional Japanese fish printing activity called Gyotaku!

To kick off this ocean themed week we have provided a list of the 3 reasons the ocean is so important and why everyone should work to conserve and protect it!

1. The ocean is interconnected with the climate and weather

The ocean conveyor belt! Photo: USGS

The oceans play a crucial role in distributing heat throughout the globe, so life does not freeze at the poles or overheat at the equator. As the sun warms the waters, particularly near the equator, the ocean currents work like a conveyor belt to bring warm water from the south to the north and colder water from the north to the south. Additionally, the ocean absorbs approximately a third of the carbon dioxide we release into the air and is an important reservoir of carbon because it holds 54 times more the atmosphere can. Carbon absorption helps to reduce warming on earth because once in the atmosphere it has a greenhouse gas effect and increases as well as varies global temperatures. However, with the amounts of carbon we are releasing the ocean has become very acidic and leads to the death of many species particularly species with calcium carbonate shells like mussels, scallops, and corals. This is why reducing out carbon footprint is important in protecting the oceans.

2. The ocean provides life

Ocean supports a wide variety of species. Photo: VegNews Magazine

Earth is mostly water, around 70 percent to be more exact! When the ocean is heated the water molecules evaporate form clouds that move inland. This causes the clouds to condense and form rain that falls, providing water and life to everything on earth! Without this cycle there would be no life of Earth. Furthermore, the ocean also provides habitat to approximately 2.2 million different species (or so scientists have estimated) in the ocean. Everything from tiny microscopic organisms like plankton swimming in the water column to the largest mammal on earth the Blue Whale. Ensuring our oceans stay healthy and biologically rich will help to ensure the overall ecosystem maintains its productivity and life continues to flourish.

So many seafood choices, but remember to choose sustainably! Photo: FoxNews

3. The ocean provides us with food

Just as the oceans provide a habitat and water for all species on earth, it also provides food for other species and humans alike. Seafood is an important source of protein for many people around the world. Seafood is filled with great sources of protein, unsaturated fatty acids and a variety of necessary vitamins and minerals. To ensure that we have a good source of seafood in the future, choosing to purchase a variety of seafood that is transparent, local, and harvested or produced with low impact on the environment is critical.

Raw Fish 101: Does Your Sashimi Get a Passing Grade?

Sushi has rapidly become one of the most universally accessible and globalized cuisines on the planet. Even if you aren’t a fan of fish I’m sure you’ve “gone for sushi” before or maybe even hosted a “sushi night” where guests bring various ingredients to contribute to a collective maki-making shindig. While there is a growing menu of vegetarian options when it comes to sushi, if you are a fish lover, what kind of fish should you be looking for? The term sushi grade or sashimi grade is often used to describe fish that is destined to be consumed raw, but what does sushi or sashimi grade actually mean?

Believe it or not sushi grade is not an “official” certification in Canada. However, for fish to be called sushi grade or sashimi grade by chefs it must be frozen. Guidelines vary for different species, but you are safest when fish is frozen at -35 for 15 hours. Home freezers usually can be set to as low as -18 which means that if you want to ensure that your fish is sushi grade it should be frozen for 36 hours or more in order to kill any parasites. In his exhaustive book The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and RiceTrevor Corson points out that the reason why traditional sushi chefs seldom serve freshwater fish is due to the very rare instance of parasites. Parasites, unlike bacteria can be killed by cooking and cold enough temperatures. “Unfrozen salmon is not recommended”

At Afishionado we carry a variety of frozen fish which is considered sushi or sashimi grade. Our yellowfin tuna saku blocks and steaks are currently the most popular fish we sell to sushi lovers from our online shop. Our tuna is not only Fair Trade, but  sustainable which makes eating fish you can feel good about hassle-free.

Please visit some of our restaurant partners and enjoy dishes featuring our Fair Trade yellowfin  tuna. Kitsune Food Co. , East of Grafton, Shuck Seafood and Raw Bar, Bistro Le Coq, The Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Edna just to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hana’s Year-End (Beginning of the Year!) Update

In my usual fashion, I’m all but three weeks late getting to my year-end update! What a wild year of changes and adaptations it’s been, and it only seems appropriate that it’s taken me well into January just to settle down and do some reflecting.

Last year‘s highlight was a complete pivot at Afishionado. January 1st, 2016 marked the end of our six day a week retail seafood stand venture at Local Source Market. They were great hosts to test out our business model. We knew that local customers wanted access to local, sustainably-harvested and grown seafood. The success of our little bustling seafood stand was proof. I met so many wonderful people, and have forged friendships that will last a lifetime! The support that we received at our humble fish stall helped us launch the next evolution of Afishionado.

While operating the retail stand we realized something very important. While we had many incredibly loyal local customers, it was still difficult to source high quality products when limited to only purchasing from our suppliers twice a week and in small volumes. We were seeing so many stories to tell of the fisheries that we wanted support, but just couldn’t buy in volumes large enough to make it worthwhile for them to go out fishing, or to ask processing plants to keep some products from the express transport trucks heading to Boston for export.

Meanwhile, we were researching and learning a lot from Community Supported Fisheries, like Halifax’s Off the Hook, who worked to overcome these exact same challenges. We kept wondering: how do you shift larger volumes from small-scale, sustainable fisheries to as many local consumers as possible within a short time frame?

We were fortunate to be able to learn from some of Off the Hook’s successes and shortcomings, giving us the confidence to embark on a weekly subscription business of our own. Our first delivery was in March, and I was immediately in awe. Right off the bat we had over 50 people sign up! I couldn’t believe it. It was working! We had enough volume, just once a week, to order in quantities that it mattered. We also had more time. Time to tell people the stories of where their fish was coming from. And more time to go out and search for new supply.

Many of those original 50 subscribers are still with us today, and we’re up to 150 customers. I still can’t believe that we have so many amazing customers who follow us online, and trust in us to bring them high quality, sustainable seafood every week. We couldn’t do it without the community we’re building.

We’ve been able to expand outside of the HRM into the Valley and now to Antigonish. We’re hoping to add Truro, Moncton, and Sackville, NB this year.

A natural evolution of the challenges that we’ve faced was the realization that we needed a processing plant to continue growing and support more small-scale sustainable fisheries. While we knew there were products out there that we wanted to bring in and tell the story of, seafood in this part of the world is at the whim of a complicated supply chain and burdensome regulations, all of which requires that product goes through a CFIA-registered plant even for sales within Nova Scotia.

Many of Nova Scotia’s small-scale fisheries and sustainable aquaculture operations haven’t achieved scale to attract the attention of existing processing plants. They operate at small volumes that existing processing plants can’t or simply don’t want to accommodate. With upwards of 90% of Nova Scotia’s seafood leaving the province, and much of it unable to connect to market, we found that in order to source product, we needed to be able to handle it all by physically intervening in the marketplace.

So this month, we began to operate a CFIA-certified processing facility in Millbrook, NS. It’s exciting to begin to overcome some of the challenges that we see facing the Nova Scotia fishing industry, and to move more towards a high-value, storied, transparent, and fair seafood exchange right here in Nova Scotia. Our ongoing growth is proof that there are people who want this type of seafood, and that we don’t have to only rely on the traditional Nova Scotia paradigm of high volume, low value exports. We can and will promote more small-scale fisheries and aquaculture operations in this province. It will be the biggest challenged we’ve faced, but we’re ready with our amazing five-person team to get more Nova Scotian seafood cross Canada.

We’re also excited that this year we’ve been chosen as a Top 25 company in Canada for SheEO, a venture capital fund for female-led and run businesses. Only 4% of venture capital funding currently goes to female-led businesses! Yet over two thirds of new businesses are started by women.

SheEO is trying to overcome that, representing “a new model of wealth creation that uses the power of relationships to upend these challenges and turn them into new possibilities. Through the $1000 contributions of thousands of radically generous women, SheEO invests in a small number of women-led, socially positive ventures, and actively supports them with zero percent interest loans, a guided development program, and access to a global network of female investors, advisors, and customers. Through this approach, women entrepreneurs not only access needed capital, they are also guided in the business strategy and leadership development so necessary for sustained success – and they have access to the mentorship, expertise, and networks of thousands of She-EO members.”

Thank you again for all support and interest and we’re excited to share with you everything 2017 brings!

Hana

Realizing the Value of Our Local Fisheries

Article: Hana Nelson
Illustration: Scott MacDonald

When it comes to seafood in Nova Scotia, many of us think that a fish is a fish is a fish. But an increasing focus on export and commodity markets in Nova Scotia is stripping the identity and value away from our seafood. So how do we maximize the value of our small-scale, community-based fisheries and aquaculture operations?

Here in Nova Scotia, we have some of the best ocean access in the world. We have over 13 thousand kilometers of coastline where small-scale, community-based fishers use age-old and low-impact fishing methods. We have emerging world-class aquaculture producers, too, from land-based recirculating aquaculture systems to low-impact, community-based shellfish farms.

With over $1.6 billion in seafood exports, Nova Scotia is Canada’s number one seafood exporter. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to retain the value of our seafood in Nova Scotia when the majority of our premium fish are exported in a faceless, global commodity market. According to One Nova Scotia’s 2015 report, Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Nova Scotians, over 90 per cent of Nova Scotia’s seafood is exported to foreign markets, often with little domestic processing before it goes abroad.

Consider one of Nova Scotia’s seafood poster children: haddock. Haddock exports represent the most significant loss of value in any groundfish species in our province. Less than 6 per cent of the exported weight of haddock is as fillets. Instead, fish is shipped out whole to be processed somewhere else. By not processing it here in Nova Scotia, we lost over $7 million in direct export revenue in 2011 alone, and that doesn’t take into account the loss of associated economic activity from employment in the processing sector.

Small retailers can’t step in and change this because our provincial government maintains antiquated fish processing regulations that are a direct consequence of this commodity market export focus. New and innovative businesses like ours (Afishionado) can’t access some types of fish we want, let alone fillet it. There is a moratorium on groundfish processing licences, so we have to rely on the increasingly scarce supply of community-based processors who can cut haddock for us and who are also under duress.

Let’s be clear: exporting isn’t bad. We’ve relied on it for centuries and will continue to do so. The tricky thing is, however, when we focus exclusively on the bulk commodity market without telling the story of our seafood — and celebrating it — we lose value, we lose identity and we lose the opportunity for local access. The haddock you eat in fish and chip shops throughout the province was probably caught here but sent on a worldwide odyssey where it was cut abroad, most likely China, and frozen twice before returning to the province.

This message really hit home recently when, sadly, one of our shellfish suppliers drowned while on the water. There are inherent dangers to life on the sea. But if our producers are competing on a convoluted and faceless commodity market, then is it really worth it to brave the perils of the sea? Cheap prices devalue the reality of their livelihoods.

We need to process our own seafood so that we can tell its story and celebrate the communities where it came from. If we want to benefit from place-based marketing, then we need to be able to access that product here in Nova Scotia. Consumers abroad need to be able to distinguish our products in the convoluted global commodity market. We have a robust, independent inshore fleet that could be back out on the water fishing.

Nova Scotia has the story. We have coastal communities that would benefit from branding and storytelling. We can embrace and celebrate a culture that has sustained our province’s growth for centuries. If we don’t have the ability to distinguish a fish by how or where it was caught or grown, or on what scale it was caught or grown and by whom, then we’ll just be another producer of commodities stripping value from our beautiful seafood resource.

Originally published in Local Connections Halifax, January 3, 2017.

http://localconnections.ca/home/local-fisheries

 

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