Recently, after my first shopping experience to The Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster and Fish Supply on Kent Street (which produced some of the most decadent muscles and rainbow trout I have ever had – see previous blog entries), I was left with some questions. Lucky for me, Joshua Bishop Owner of The Whalesbone was kind enough to take the time to give me the answers!

(Simply Fresh) You are Ottawa’s only ‘Ocean Wise’ certified wholesaler / retailer. What does it mean to be ‘Ocean Wise’ certified?

(Joshua Bishop) Ocean Wise is a self supporting, non profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. To become certified means that we have submitted our menus and product lists which we purvey to our restaurant guests and wholesale clients. These menus and product lists require detail with regard to types of species / their catch methods / origin of catch.

Your website,, states that you sell only ‘ethically sourced oysters and fin fish’, which catch methods are considered the most ethical and why?

There are a real variety of catch methods, however some of the most ethical with regard to finfish are harpoon / hook and line / live trap caught / troll / rod and reel

Last week I picked up the most incredible muscles from your retail location on Kent Street (504-A Kent Street at Arlington). What is the most important thing to keep in mind in order to purchase quality seafood?

In my opinion it is important for the purveyor to know where the product is coming from and when it was pulled from the water. Simply use your eyes / nose / touch. If you are able to see the gills of the fish, they are hopefully nice and pink. Their eyes should be clear. To the touch, you should not leave an indented mark, the flesh when freshest will “bounce” back. Your nose – oysters and fish should smell like the ocean when fresh, and not like fish. 

Fresh season will be opening soon around Canada’s coasts – which fish are you most looking forward to stocking again?   

Pacific halibut is exciting. Lake fish from Lake Erie is awesome (ie perch, walleye, bass  sablefish as bycatch to halibut). Harpoon caught swordfish (Only has a 2 week season). Also pacific sardines, BC wild spot prawns And lobster from PEI.
What advice can you offer to those who want to ensure they are eating sustainable seafood while dining out? 
Atlantic salmon is always farmed – never wild.  There currently are tremendous strikes against open water salmon farming and its devastating effects on wild stocks. Ask for land based farmed fish, as it has less impact on wild populations. And try to inform yourself on the red list fish. These fish are the bad ones to eat because their stocks are low, or their catch methods are devastating to other species and environments.


Thank you so much for your time Joshua and providing a place where Ottawa fish lovers can get quality, sustainable seafood.