Sustainable Seasons: Fresh Catch

Posted on Jul 7 by SEASONS Magazine

Popular menu item at Kanaloa Seafood, the fishwich. Photo courtesy Kanaloa Seafood.

Popular menu item at Kanaloa Seafood, the fishwich. Photo courtesy Kanaloa Seafood.

Sourcing Seafood With Kanaloa

KINA’OLE: Doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, for the right reason, with the right feeling every time.

By Rachel Hommel

Kanaloa is the Hawaiian god of the sea and all that live in the oceans. Inspired by his mystic power, Kanaloa Seafood has sourced fresh seafood since 1983, creating a sustainable model that protects the valued waters and the livelihood of its fishing communities.

Acting as a seafood sourcing, processing and distribution company, Kanaloa started with five customers—Julia Child being one of them. Fast-forward 30+ years, and the company has wholesale customers all over the country, with 250 active accounts. At Kanaloa, owners Don and Randee Disraeli take a regional approach to sustainability, which includes full eco-system evaluation and audits. This model looks at the interdependence of the marine system by assessing entire regions, a much more aggressive and comprehensive approach toward sustainability.

“We want to ensure the species is not creating a negative impact on the fishing community,” says Randee. “This is vital for the health of the ocean and a positive direction for sustainable seafood.”

The couple had big dreams when they embarked on their mission to change the future of seafood. Trained and inspired by a third-generation Japanese family, they learned the business from the bottom up in Oahu, Hawaii before opening in Santa Barbara. From gutting and scaling to cleaning and traditional cutting techniques, Kanaloa was born, promoting and supporting environmentally responsible, scientifically sustainable fisheries. Don, a former associate professor, holds a PhD in Coastal Ecology and Ecosystems Management from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Randee has a degree in Geographic Information Systems from UCSB.

“We have been entrenched in environmental studies from the beginning. We have never lost sight of our commitment,” says Randee. “The seafood movement allows us a different venue to educate and practice what we are passionate about.”

At Kanaloa, each farmer, distributor or broker goes through a rigorous auditing process, as set by the company’s 14001 ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification. As the only seafood distributor in North America to be recognized, this environmental accolade ensures that companies not only practice what they preach, but stay ahead of the curve. Audited every six months, Kanaloa has successfully improved its environmental performance by reducing raw material/resources usage, energy consumption, waste generation and eco-packaging.

Korean seafood tacos with marinated salmon. Photo courtesy Kanaloa Seafood.

Korean seafood tacos with marinated salmon. Photo courtesy Kanaloa Seafood.

“Our clients, consumers, the community, they can have assurance that we are doing what we say we are doing, that we are true to our commitment,” says Randee. “We don’t just offer lip service, we truly deliver.”

In addition to an internationally recognized external auditing system, the company is also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), raising the level of traceability through a chain-of-custody standard. This certification ensures that Kanaloa can trace each species all the way back to the source to ensure that it was sustainably raised—from a certified fishery or farm to final sale. Awarded the 2016 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award for Green/Social Entrepreneurship, Kanaloa is dedicated to the health of our oceans and the local community.

“Santa Barbara is our home. This is our community, and we want people to have access to fresh seafood, but also access to knowledge,” says Randee. “We take it on as our responsibility to legitimize our choices.”

In each of their two restaurants, located in Santa Barbara and Oxnard, the daily offerings are listed alongside a variety of marine certifications, highlighting both where the fish comes from and what organization has certified it. With a devotion to full-ecosystem evaluations, guests can feel confident in their food choices. With everything made from scratch, the menu ranges from tacos and chowders to poke, all inspired by friends, chefs and some of their favorite fishermen. Kanaloa recently added a dinner menu to the lunch offerings in Santa Barbara and will soon do so in Oxnard.

“Light bulbs go on when you talk to people about seafood, we are constantly learning and evolving,” says Randee. “It’s exciting to know that you are part of a movement that’s going to make a difference for future generations.”  

Kanaloa Seafood markets and restaurants are located at 715 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, and 251 Lombard St., Oxnard. For more information, visit Kanaloaseafood.com.

 Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine. 

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