The Galley Guys have heard it said that, “If you are lucky enough to be boating, then you are lucky enough”. This past week, in the middle of a squall, in 90 kilometre winds, three Canadian sailors (one was only nine years old) were rescued in the Pacific Ocean by the 240 metre freighter, Horizon Reliance, belonging to the North Carolina company Horizon Lines Inc. Nearing hypothermia, the three were plucked from the sea, from darkness, heavy rain and six metre waves. Here on the stormy ocean were incredible acts of bravery, courage, skill, unselfishness and luck. "The rescue efforts cost will be covered by Horizon Lines", Spokesman James Story said. “It's part of our obligations as seafarers.”

Along with my two amigos, the Galley Guys have been lucky to be boaters, but with this blessing also comes responsibilities – protecting and caring for our fellow boaters, and our oceans, lakes and rivers.

None of the Galley Guys will likely ever captain an ocean freighter and hopefully (author pauses to touch a seasoned wooden salad bowl) will never need to be rescued at sea, but since we have been lucky enough to have met a group of people that have taken a leadership role in protecting the playgrounds of our passion, we want to share this valiant culinary experience.

The Galley Guys really are boaters, who also enjoy great food and the occasional glass of wine or spirits that comes with the lifestyle. West Coast foodie Frank Leffelaar suggested that while at the Vancouver International Boat Show this year, we must visit C Restaurant to learn about and enjoy sustainable seafood planning from the pioneers of this growing movement. C Restaurant is located on the north shore of False Creek right across from the amazing Granville Market, always one of my favourite stops when visiting Vancouver.

Executive Chef Robert Clark is one of these 'sustainable' leaders. Born in Montreal, raised in the Gaspé, and educated at George Brown in Toronto, Clark is passionate about educating and leading the charge to promote the sustainability of the seafood. In 1997, leading Vancouver restaurateur, Harry Kambolis recruited Clark to join his team at "C" as Chef de Cuisine. Within a year, Clark was promoted to the position of Executive Chef. Since then, Clark's leadership has been the key to the restaurant's success in becoming an award winning, critically acclaimed dining destination in Canada.

Always aware of the delicate balance between quality, sustainability and market demands that challenge the seafood industry, Clark believes the integrity of a product is the footing on which a chef builds his reputation. Over the past 15 years, Clark has been pivotal in the creation of the annual Spot Prawn Festival in Vancouver, and has worked closely with the Vancouver Aquarium to launch the Ocean Wise program, while also sitting on the board of the B.C. Chefs’ Table Society. In March 2011, Clark was awarded the Seafood Champion Award from SeaWeb for his ocean advocacy work.

Our visit to C Restaurant was just before the mid-day opening, before the rush of lunchtime diners allowing us the pleasure to meet with the "C" team and enjoy a coffee with now Executive Chef de Cuisine, Lee Humphries. We opened our conversation with a question about the seafood sustaining menu and then just sat back scribbling notes as fast as we could as Lee, with his charming Cornwall (UK) accent, spoke passionately about the efforts and trials that "C" has undertaken to meet and surpass its mission to deliver the finest seafood dining experience while never compromising their principles about sustainability.

Don’t even think about shipping your produce to Lee in Styrofoam containers.

Lee, a very active recreational fly fisherman himself (and soon-to-be father) expressed very clearly that the bounty of the sea also belongs to future generations and now is the time to change and eliminate some historically bad practices that have plagued the harvesting of seafood and embrace thoughtful and sustainable seafood farming as the new accepted norm.

Lee constantly meets with both seafood and agro suppliers such as The Lake Babine Nation Fisheries Program (Ned’u’ten Fisheries) which was created in 1991 when this First Nation Group engaged Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada via the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS). The Fisheries Program is funded in part by Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the AFS. The purpose of the program is to co-manage salmon stocks within the Lake Babine Nation’s Traditional Territory. A great partnership was created and now salmon is harvested through a controlled system of "best practices".

Locally harvested Northern Divine caviar is now a featured item on the menu, after a 10-year hiatus. Located in Sechelt, BC, Northern Divine produces caviar from its land-based fish farm, a practice supported by the David Suzuki Foundation; their caviar-producing sturgeon have also been labelled as sustainable by Ocean Wise.

Although there currently isn't a certification for organic seafood in Canada, Northern Divine operates according to the draft Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standards, which could be approved by the end of this year.

C Restaurant – once a pioneer and still a leader – while providing the best sustainable seafood food experience is still a business and must adhere to basic business principles. By being selective in its food supplier sources, finer restaurants such as C Restaurant – winner of the 2011 Green Restaurant Award – more often than not pay a more and therefore have to charge more, but the culinary experience of environmentally responsible seafood from a global leader in the sustainability movement is superb.

The Galley Guys are lucky to be a boaters, lucky to make our living by boating, and in some small way after hearing countless stories about declining fish stocks, endangered species, we were lucky to meet the team at C Restaurant. To Lee, the kitchen staff and the well-spoken, and most knowledgeable environmentalist server, Jasper, thank you. The Galley Guys want our friends to enjoy their time aboard your boats, so drink and eat well, but do it responsibly.

www.crestaurant.com

ABOUT SEACHOICE

SeaChoice is based on collaboration between five member organizations: the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society; the Ecology Action Centre; the David Suzuki Foundation; the Living Ocean Society; and, the Sierra Club of BC. But the collaboration doesn't end there.

Each of the organizations is also part of a larger North American-wide network of not-for-profit organizations named the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, which is working to promote ocean-friendly seafood in retail markets in Canada and the United States. Our involvement in this Alliance broadens our reach into the seafood supply systems, provides learning opportunities that help improve the SeaChoice program, and offers connections to other businesses that are striving to achieve their sustainable seafood policies.

By Greg Nicoll

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