Sustainability Leaders are individuals have demonstrated excellent leadership in the sustainable seafood movement through their engagement with the Ocean Wise Seafood program. On the Ocean Wise Seafood Council, they work with our team as advisors, ambassadors, and changemakers.
Each Sustainability Leader commits to taking on additional projects with the Ocean Wise Seafood program to further support the mission to ensure our oceans remain healthy and flourishing.
2021 Sustainability Leaders
Seafood Purchaser/Marketer, Centennial Foodservice
When I first started working with seafood, “Sustainable” was a rarely spoken word.
No need to pay attention, there was plenty of seafood in the ocean and minimal science to prove otherwise.
24 years later, it has become apparent to me not to just speak the word, but to pay closer attention to its meaning. It is telling us we all need to collaborate and spark change. It is the only way we can make a difference to ensure the future health of our oceans.
“Proudly working as Centennial’s Seafood Purchaser/Marketer, I have had the opportunity over the years to interact with Ocean Wise and their science team. Today by working even closer with their team, it is my way, my need – to be part of making that difference we will see tomorrow.”
Afishionado is a female run fishmonger that connects local fishers and seafood farmers with fish lovers. They are based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and supply sustainable seafood to restaurants and consumers year round.
When Hana Nelson, the founder of Afishionado, moved back to Nova Scotia, she realized there was a lack of local seafood available to Haligonians. When she found out seafood is Nova Scotia’s biggest export- she was shocked! Hana wanted to help Nova Scotians enjoy the delicious seafood their province is famous for, so she started to make connections with local fisherman and seafood farmers. As Hana got to know more people in the seafood industry, she became hooked! She wanted to share their stories with others. Hana Nelson became passionate about seafood by learning about where and who it comes from, and she is happy to share everything she’s learned along the way.
Executive Chef, Calgary Zoo
Chef James Neilson has been working in kitchens for the past 22 years. He started working as dishwasher/ prep cook and worked his way through the ranks and is currently Executive chef/ Food and Beverage Operations Manager at The Calgary Zoo. After completing his red seal training in 2006 at Red Deer College he moved to Calgary and worked as private chef for oil and gas executives and private functions. In 2008 James decided to move to Vancouver Island. Over the next 5 years he worked at The Westin Bear Mountain in Victoria, as Executive Chef at The Dorchester hotel in Nanaimo and opened a successful Seafood and Raw Bar at Acme Food co in Nanaimo. During his time on the island he was able to make and develop a lot of tight nit relationships with the local farmers. He won numerous competitions wile on Vancouver Island including Harvest fest top chef competition (Nanaimo) which showcased local product and the Chowder fest competition (Nanaimo) in 2011. In January 2013 James started working at the Calgary Zoo. James like the zoo has an extreme dedication and focus on the importance of utilizing local suppliers, sustainable seafood options and minimizing our foot print on the environment when and where ever possible.
“I have been a strong supporter of Ocean Wise for many years. I love when I get the opportunity to speak to the program and the importance of doing the research to ensure you are making environmentally responsible decisions. Ocean Wise has proven to be an industry leader in education along with ensuring there are effective tools at the finger tips of individuals to ensure they are confidently making responsible decisions. Working for a non profit conservation orientated organization, The Calgary Zoo, has really been an opportunity to align goals and to have a better understanding of the challenges organizations face along with a better understanding of the level of dedication and commitment that is within the organizational culture.”
Executive Chef/Owner, Naramata Inn
Ned is a well-known Canadian culinary talent who has forged a path as a chef advocate, keynote speaker and educator, and now owner and chef at Naramata Inn. As one of the country’s leading chefs, he has used his voice, outgoing personality, and indomitable spirit to stand up for the world’s lakes, oceans and rivers. Ned has earned many honours over the years, most recently: Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2019), Honorary Doctorate in Technology from Vancouver Island University (2019), SeaWeb Seafood Summit Global Champion Award (2017), and author of best selling cookbook Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast.
“My commitment for healthy lakes oceans and rivers has long been inspired alongside Ocean Wise. It’s leaders, allow my to collaborate with likeminded Canadians passionate for sustainability and a future for science based decisions made with wild and well managed fisheries, responsible aquaculture and thriving ecosystems.”
Executive Chef/Owner, Wooden Boat Food Company
Originally from Langley, B.C., Tran’s culinary career began as a dishwasher & busser at the age of 14 at his family’s restaurant. He spent several years cooking throughout the Vancouver restaurant circuit, and at several prestigious food institutions namely Bishop’s and Il Giardino. In 2017, he moved to Kitchener ON to expand his reach for his award-winning flagship sauce Nuoc Cham and Ot (Sweet Chili) and opened 2 restaurants.
Currently, Thompson is currently the owner and executive chef of Kitchener’s award-winning Wooden Boat Food Company, a hidden gem serving up casual Vietnamese-inspired food in an eclectic and unique industrial restaurant. He believes deeply in sustainability and localism and strives to be zero waste through active leadership and community participation. His restaurant also happens to be one of the only restaurants in the world that is saran, foil, Styrofoam & parchment free.
“I believe sustainability in today’s business environment is an essential building block for long-term success. I also believe Chefs have a great deal of influence on local and global food trends, food literacy, and community, and therefore, need to be well-equipped with reliable data to make better informed decisions when purchasing ingredients. Ocean Wise, as a committed and passionate ocean conservation organization is an essential resource, partner and supporter of chefs and the restaurants they run; our oceans, rivers and lakes need their passion, commitment and energy to survive the next 100 years!”
Author, spear-fisher, freediving instructor, educator – Website
Born in Montreal, Valentine was trained as a lawyer in Canada and worked in finance in London for six years before leaving it all behind to pursue her passions. She quit her job and gave up the urban lifestyle to fiercely advocate for sustainable seafood systems while encouraging people to reconsider their relationship with nature, as well as their own self confidence and health and wellness.
Two Times TEDx Speaker, Forbes Magazine Change-Maker, Quebec Government Consultant on Fisheries, Sustainability Council for Ocean Wise, Ambassador for Marine Stewardship Council, Author of Seafood Sustainability Cookbook, and TV Host. Currently, Valentine is a world-class spear-fisher, freediving instructor, published author, thought leader, educator and influencer with a global platform and reach.
Executive Chef, Nootka Marine Adventures
I grew up in Vancouver and the intrinsic values about Ocean Conservation and Seafood Sustainability were ingrained in my upbringing through many facets that had significant impact on my journey in becoming a chef. From weekly visits to the Vancouver Aquarium with my family as a child in awe of the biodiversity that exist on our planet to exploring the natural ecology and diversity of our province from the vast splendour of our oceans, beaches, forests, and mountains, it shaped a passion and appreciation for nature. That passion led to a degree in Animal Biology at the University of British Columbia and while at university it foraged a parallel path in my exposure to the restaurant industry which altered the trajectory of my life from my first day as a dishwasher all the way to a career running restaurants and hotels throughout the city. Through that journey I strived to collaborate a lifelong passion for music as a violinist and fine arts and transform that creative and expressive energy into a career as a chef with science and biology as a backbone in creatively and artistically telling meaningful and significant stories through the canvas and platform of food. The belief that every aspect of food has as story, a meaning, an importance, a history, an evolution, a significance, and an impact infinitely drives a commitment and belief to perpetuate an ethos focused around a shared and growing perspective and focus on sustainability and conservation.
“Ocean Wise is the guiding light to the pursuit of culinary sustainability and conservation”