Monday, January 31, 2011

Framing Seafood Sustainability

Squamish Nation Elder Audrey Rivers
A traditional blessing from Squamish Nation Elder Audrey Rivers provided an evocative and emotional opening to the 9th International Seafood Summit.  She welcomed people from the ‘Four Directions’ noting the relationship between the traditional medicine wheel and characteristics of each direction--including foresight from the east and hindsight from the west.  She spoke of the importance of honoring the past, acknowledging the present, and looking to the future.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson shared his thoughts on sustainability, inspired in part by his own experiences sailing and fishing as a young man in the Vancouver area.  He welcomed participants and thanked summit organizers for choosing Vancouver noting that local restaurants and chefs have been leaders in putting sustainable seafood into practice.  It’s Dine Out week in Vancouver so there are plenty of reasons to get out and enjoy what Vancouver restaurants have to offer!

Yvon Chouinard, Henry Demone, Jim Cannon
A provocative keynote speech from Patagonia founder and “accidental businessman” CEO Yvon Chouinard challenged summit participants to think more deeply about what sustainability really means.  “With 7 billion people on the planet—this finite planet--I don’t believe there’s any economic activity that is truly sustainable.  We have to qualify that word ‘sustainable’ with ‘less’ or ‘more’ in front of it.”  He appealed to the seafood industry to ask deeper and deeper questions as he chronicled his own journey to create a responsible business.

The opening plenary session also featured a dialog in response to the question ‘How Far Can and Should the Sustainable Movement Go in Improving Fisheries Worldwide?’ Jim Cannon from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership joined Yvon Chouinard and Henry Demone in the conversation facilitated by SeaWeb Vice President of Sustainable Markets, Melanie Siggs.

Afternoon sessions offered attendees a wide array of topics from which to choose. Chefs took center stage for a discussion entitled ‘Gatekeepers to Cuisine Consciousness—Chefs Explore Their Influence on, and Responsibility to, Sustainability. Vancouver-based Chef Robert Clark of C Restaurant—who is also a Seafood Champions finalist—talked about serving smaller portions and rotating menu items to account for seasonality as some ways to enhance sustainability. Chef Xavier DeShayes, Executive Chef of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center noted the role of a chef is to teach—whether it be the kitchen staff, front of house staff or clients. 
Rainbow Creek Dancers

The day was rounded off with a lively reception for all 700 plus delegates who were treated to traditional dancing from the Rainbow Creek Dancers and a focus on the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Initiative.

Tomorrow’s agenda is equally full—so stay tuned for more!

Seafood Summit: Day 1

As the day dawns in Vancouver, the snow-capped peaks surrounding English Bay provide a dramatic and inspiring backdrop to the start of the 9th International Seafood Summit.  Nearly 700 attendees from more than 30 countries are gathering to address this year’s summit theme ‘Responsibility without Borders?’ 

Pre-meeting conversations on the topic have yielded many thoughts on the summit theme including the observation that fish and other marine species are simply not cognizant of the geographic borders that we humans tend to place so much stock in.  Examining responsibilities beyond the scope of traditional physical borders will be intriguing and thought-provoking and is sure to stimulate a great deal of dialog.

But the concept of borders doesn’t just refer to physical boundaries.  The summit theme also refers to responsibilities across sectors.  SeaWeb’s Seafood Summit brings together academics and government officials, business leaders and non-governmental organizations to help tackle the tough questions surrounding sustainability on the seafood supply chain.

Attendees are excited to be here and ready to tackle the challenges ahead!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seafood Summit: Vancouver Island Shellfish Aquaculture Field Trip

The 2011 Seafood Summit kicked off early Saturday morning with 33 Summit attendees aboard a bus en route to Vancouver Island.  Despite the early hour, spirits were high as we embarked on an overnight adventure to learn about various shellfish farming operations on Vancouver Island. 

Pulling up nets with farmed scallops.
Leading the field trip were Bill Taylor, Bill Dewey and Jon Rowley of Taylor Shellfish Farms who run operations for Taylor Shellfish on Vancouver Island as well as in Seattle, Washington.  Aboard the ferry to Vancouver Island, Bill Dewey explained how ocean acidification is affecting the shellfish on their farms and how they’ve had to adapt to ensure longevity and sustainability of the shellfish, as well as their business. 

The idea of adapting to changing ocean chemistry was resonated by other shellfish farmers and fishermen we visited along the way, though ocean acidification isn’t the only thing they’re up against.  Land based runoff, natural predators and disease are also issues of daily concern when operating shellfish farms in the Pacific North West.

After lunch at Fanny Bay Inn, where legendary oyster burgers were served, and excursions to several shellfish farming facilities, attendees settled down for Q&A with folks from Taylor Shellfish and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean.  There was great dialogue and lots of thought provoking questions among participants and everyone was very engaged in learning.

But there was also so fun to be had, and Bill, Bill & Jon had set up a lantern-lit wine and oyster tasting on the beach.  Attendees got to shuck fresh picked oysters and enjoy local wines and no one seemed to mind that it was very cold, very dark and their shoes and socks were soaked.  

The evening concluded with a trip to the brand new Vancouver Island University Marine Field Station – a facility designed with the surrounding environment in mind, including the ocean – and a delicious meal of fresh shellfish right out of the Bay prepared by Vancouver Island Culinary Institute students led by chef Xihn Dwelley of Xinh's Clam & Oyster House in Shelton, Washington.  The station is two weeks away from its public debut, but station manager, Brian Kingzett, made a special exception for Summit attendees so he could show off all the beautiful, eco-friendly new building, the great science research work they’re doing, and the delicious culinary expertise of the students. The Field Station will afford VI University marine science students the opportunity to conduct field research in Deep Bay and lab work in the lower level of the field station.  Some of the students were on hand to tell us about their research and explain the unique centerpieces at each table (shown above right).  Each flask held water and live shellfish from the bay and next to it was a flask with murky, algae-filled water.  The students advised us to pour the ‘dirty’ water into the larger shellfish-filled flask and watch them go to work.  By the end of the delectable meal the water was clear again – a creative demonstration of the important ecosystem services shellfish provide.

Special thanks to Bill Taylor, Bill Dewey, Jon Rowley, Brian Kingzett, Brian Yip and Philip Chou for making the field trip a very memorable one for participants.

We're looking forward to officially welcoming everyone to the Summit and getting everyone checked in at registration this afternoon.  More to come as we talk sustainable seafood at this year's Seafood Summit!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Will you be in Vancouver for the 2011 Seafood Summit?

We hope to see you at the upcoming ninth annual Seafood Summit: "Responsibility without Borders?," to be held in Vancouver, Canada, from January 31 to February 2, 2011.

The Seafood Summit brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussions, presentations and networking with the goal of making the seafood marketplace environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

In addition to the exciting presentations being given at the Summit— including from keynote speaker Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard—we will have two unique field trip opportunities, one before and another after the Summit.

Can't be there in person? Follow our SeaWeb in Action blog to keep you up-to-date about what's happening at the Summit!