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Richmond seafood company lends a hand

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:28 PDT, Tue April 14, 2020

Last Updated: 3:40 PDT, Tue April 14, 2020

Richmond seafood company Organic Ocean is feeding the masses.

The company, created and run by experienced fishers, previously only sold their seafood to restaurants. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they wanted to avoid laying off staff and shutting operations down. 

So Organic Ocean pivoted and began selling to the community—at the same wholesale price that distributors pay.

“It’s something that we’d been contemplating doing for a long time,” explains CEO and co-founder Dane Chauvel. 

For years, home cooks in search of quality, sustainable seafood had asked the company if they sold to individual purchasers. While the answer had always been no, Chauvel and his team saw the pandemic as an opportunity to branch out and do what they’d always intended to.

“It wasn’t intended to be a moneymaking initiative for us, it was intended to be a socially responsible initiative,” says Chauvel. 

For their new sales plan, the company has established contactless delivery to homes and set a low delivery charge.

To keep their employees and customers safe, Organic Ocean is using its stock of masks, disposable gloves and face shields. 

To tailor their products to home delivery, Chauvel says his company had to transform their products. Organic Ocean sells individual portions packaged as sustainably as possible—everything goes out in cardboard boxes, and no styrofoam is used.

Chauvel says the feedback on individual sales so far has been overwhelmingly positive. He intends to continue selling to individual purchasers after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, following his belief that local, quality seafood should be available to all customers.

People buying from Organic Ocean’s website will notice the COVID-19 themed names given to food packages: a family pack is called “Wash Your Hands,” and a couple’s pack with two sets of each item is termed “Self Isolating Together.”

Recently, Organic Ocean joined with non-profit Goodly Foods Society in a partnership called Neighbours Helping Neighbours. Organic Ocean provides the seafood for free, while Goodly Foods donates it through charities and food banks.

Last week, one of Organic Ocean’s fishers went out with his crew and brought back 3,000 pounds (1,500 kilograms) of fresh ling cod. This will be frozen by Organic Ocean and donated to Goodly Foods Society in batches.

Chauvel says it will create about 10,000 meals for people in need. The first delivery will happen this week.

Organic Ocean is giving back to the community and keeping staff employed during this challenging time. For more information, or to purchase local and sustainable seafood, visit their website: shop.organicocean.com

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