BC chefs rally to save Vancouver Aquarium

Chefs selling seafood chowder Friday to raise money for aquarium

Buy some seafood chowder on Friday and you'll be helping Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Aquarium. | Andres Markwart

BC chefs want you to eat some fish to save some fish – specifically, the fish (and mammals) at the Vancouver Aquarium – and to save the aquarium itself.

The aquarium has lost millions in ticket sales, after being shut down since March 17 during the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency.

That revenue is needed not only to feed and maintain fish and mammals at the aquarium, but also to fund its ocean conservation programs.

“The lost revenue has put the Vancouver Aquarium in a precarious financial position,” the aquarium says in a press release.

“Even after dramatic cost cutting, the organization is still faced with more than $1 million a month in operation and facility expenses. Even when the aquarium is able to re-open, it will be months, if not years, before the organization will be able to recover from the business impacts of COVID-19.

In response to a plea for help, a dozen of B.C.’s top chefs have stepped up with a campaign, in which they will be making a variety of seafood chowders from B.C. seafood and selling it, with profits going to the aquarium.

The sale begins Friday, May 22. The chefs themselves could use the support too, since their own restaurants were also shut down. Some are only now reopening.

They will be selling seafood chowder made from B.C. razor clamssablefishsalmon and shrimp, which are being donated by B.C. fishermen and seafood companies.

The chowder will be sold at their various restaurant locations in one-litre takeaway containers for $20, with a minimum of $15 going to Vancouver Aquarium. Some chefs will serve their chowder for dining in at their restaurants.

The sale will start Friday at the following restaurants:

“The Vancouver Aquarium has done so much for the sustainable seafood movement and has inspired a nation of chefs to be champions for our oceans,” said Chef Ned Bell, co-owner of The Naramata Inn and former executive chef for Ocean Wise, the aquarium’s sustainable seafood rating program.

“It's because of the Ocean Wise Seafood program that so many local and Canadian chefs have had the opportunity to learn about sustainable seafood, work for restaurants that are embracing it, cook for guests who continue to ask for it, and be ambassadors in the global effort towards ocean conservation.”

(Editor's note: This story was updated to correct date of campaign.)