Achieving Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) full certification would mean the epitome of success for co founder and co owner of Bluewater Grill and Bluewater Avalon Jimmy Ulcickas. Ulcickas endeavors to display the MSC Ecolabel badge of honor denoting seafood that is certified by the MSC and is fully traceable on the Bluewater menu. In order to meet these standards, all seafood must be sourced from an MSC certified seafood supplier and the restaurant must show that it meets the MSC Chain of Custody standard (a check that every link in the supply chain is certified), and pending certification, the restaurant has to apply for a license to use the MSC Ecolabel.
“We are 90% to our goal of full menu certification,” says Ulcickas. “The other 10% consists of popular shellfish and seafood items on our menu that are a challenge to find farmed or wild sourced that meet sustainability standards. We have a statement of sustainability on each of our menus, but until we reach full certification, we can’t display the MSC label.”
When it comes to sustainability, talking the talk isn’t enough. Patrons at Bluewater Avalon can enjoy fresh swordfish caught off the coast of Catalina by Bluewater’s very own fisherman. They are out to sea at least once a week and are most proud of their method of fishing. Ulcickas explains, “We harpoon the fish. This 100% sustainable method of fishing is the most humane since it eliminates all of the by-catch caused by nets or long lines.” During swordfish season you can try the fish served Cajun style with coconut rice and a tropical fruit salsa or right off the grill.
Since the 1996 opening of the first Bluewater Grill in Newport’s Cannery Village, Ulcickas has been committed to seafood sustainability. That commitment has only continued to grow and involves customers in an effort to educate the public. In 2011, Bluewater Grill hosted a sustainable seafood summit and also partnered with the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Seafood for the Future Program. In 2012, the restaurant hosted its first public sustainability dinner. “Our goal has been to educate our consumers about how important and easy it is to make responsible seafood decisions ” both while dining out and at the supermarket. Ultimately, we want to foster a greater appreciation for fresh fish, which includes how to purchase it, order it at a restaurant and prepare it at home,” says Ulcickas.
“I love the ocean, and I want my children and their children to be able to enjoy the same ocean I do.” A fisherman at heart, Ulcickas wishes to spread the importance of seafood sustainability far and wide and is doing so one swordfish at a time.