Arctic char from Nunavut’s Kitikmeot Foods gets sustainable stamp of approval
Ocean Wise program gives Victoria Island’s wild-caught char a big thumbs-up
People who live in Cambridge Bay know their pink-fleshed Arctic char is good—but now the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise has also assessed and recommended Arctic char from Cambridge Bay for its sustainability.
It’s the first assessment for wild-caught Arctic char in the world from a stock, marketed by Kitikmeot Foods Ltd., that accounts for about 44 per cent of all wild Arctic char commercially harvested in Canada.
Now, the Arctic char products will be able to feature an Ocean Wise symbol on packaging, which help consumers chose sustainable seafood.
The recommendations for sustainability are based on four criteria which judge if a species is:
• abundant and resilient;
• harvested in a method that ensures limited by-catch; and,
• harvested in ways that limit damage to habitats and other species.
The report assessed the Arctic char fishery in four Victoria Island waterways, the Ekalluktok River, Halokvik River, Paliryuak River and Jayko River which each have their own quota system in place.
Laurenne Schiller, research analyst at Ocean Wise and author of the assessment report on Arctic char, noted the Cambridge Bay fishery uses temporary weirs to catch the fish whenever possible.
“These weirs are very low impact and pose virtually no threat to the surrounding habitat or other marine life. They’re effectively a modern spin on traditional Inuit weirs, which were made of stones and were used to catch char in the region hundreds of years ago,” she told a Vancouver, B.C. food magazine last month.
The Arctic char from Victoria Island, processed by Kitikmeot Foods’ fish plant in Cambridge Bay, is sold whole, in fillets, as dried fish or in jerky.
The company, a subsidiary of the Nunavut Development Corp., showed revenues of about $1 million in 2014-15, after $399,000 in subsidies from the development corporation.