A new initiative called the Cayman Sea Sense project encourages restaurants and supermarkets to provide ocean-friendly products, allowing customers the opportunity to make informed and ecologically positive seafood choices.
Marnie Laing, Development and Education Specialist at the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and Catherine Bell, Curator, Marine and Research, at the Cayman Turtle Farm and Boatswain’s Beach are heading the Cayman Sea Sense project, a welcome initiative amongst the ocean friendly. Boatswain’s Beach hosted the introductory meeting to present the concept to local chefs, restaurant managers and distributors on Monday, November 7 in the Boatswain’s Beach Reception Building. The event was sponsored by Jacques Scott Group Ltd, who provided refreshments and Icoa catered for the occasion using sustainable seafood recipes.
Developed in association with Vancouver and South Carolina Aquariums, the concept encourages restaurants and supermarkets to provide ocean-friendly products, allowing customers the opportunity to make informed and ecologically positive seafood choices.
‘The main objectives of the program are to educate the general public about issues facing our oceans, to increase our understanding of the impact we make on the ocean when purchasing seafood products, and to lessen the impact the consumers in the Cayman Island’s have on the world’s fragile ocean resources,’ says a press release.
According to Ms. Bell the Cayman Sea Sense project is a ‘local initiative, developed with support from Vancouver and South Carolina Aquariums, with the goal of promoting the sale of sustainable seafood items in restaurants and supermarkets island-wide. These ‘sustainable items’ come from well-managed fish stocks that use acceptable fishing methods to minimize habitat destruction, by-catch, and long or short term population reductions in all marine species’.
Gathering considerable momentum since its inception, the project has so far gained the support of the Department of Environment, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, and the Cayman Islands Chef’s Association. Keith Griffin, vice-president and manager of the National Cayman Culinary Team states, ‘This is a great project and something that all chefs should support. I have discussed this issue with many of the island’s top industry people and everyone I have spoken to is behind the project.
‘Not only is it environmentally beneficial, it also makes good business sense. We should all remember that the majority of our visitors come to the Cayman Islands for water sports and are very aware of the state of the oceans. Customers do take note of which products we choose to put on our menus and make dining choices accordingly.
‘At a time when we are rebuilding our tourism industry it is a good idea for us to be recognized and marketed as an environmentally friendly destination.’
The meeting was well attended by chefs and owners of restaurants including Ristorante Pappagallo’s, Breezes by the Bay, Cimboco, Kaibo, Bacchus, Hyatt, Fidel Murphy’s, Triple Crown, Ritz-Carlton and Cobalt Coast, as well as supporters from the Department of Environment and the Watersports Association.
The project is open for participation to all restaurants and requires only that they provide at least one sustainable option on their menu, with a commitment for continued improvement in the long-term, says the press release. Full Cayman Sea Sense certification will be given when all seafood items on the menu are sustainable. Specific icons will be placed next to the sustainable seafood items on each menu and the website www.nationaltrust.org.ky/seasense.html details up-dates and new information which will also help guide those interested in learning more on this important issue. Each business and restaurant member will also be given education and support materials for all restaurant staff, seafood watch wallet cards and rack cards describing the project and endorsing the member, says the release.
Those involved with the project feel it is a positive force for change ‘People can have a positive influence on the conservation of marine resources simply by choosing their seafood selections from sustainable stocks. Cayman Sea Sense will help provide consumers with the information they need to make these smart seafood decisions. Making smart choices about seafood is healthy for each of us, for future generations, and for earth’s oceans.’ said Ms. Laing.