Friday, February 4, 2011

Seafood Summit: Seafood Sustainability in Seattle & Looking to the Future in Asia

A day trip to Seattle was a great way to officially close the Seafood Summit.  17 delegates ventured across the US/Canada border for a visit to Seattle's Ballard Port to learn about the commercial halibut fishery.  Jeremy Brown of Commercial Fisheries of America led delegates along an informative learning experience, and culinary adventure.
Seattle's Pike Place Market
 It was a whirlwind of a trip in the best way possible.  Delegates were engaged and could barely tear themselves away from the fishermen who kept feeding them information about the successes and struggles they've endured fishing for halibut just outside of Seattle.  In addition to the talks given by the fishermen, delegates were treated to three delicious meals at three Seattle seafood lover staples - Chinook's, Ray's and Steelhead Diner.  Each restaurant is sustainability conscious and sources locally.

Delegates returned to a dark and rainy Vancouver very late in the evening, but there was still a lot positive energy in the air as delegates said their goodbyes.  Lots of new connections were made and important relationships built toward improving the fishing industry and seafood marketplace.  Everyone is looking forward to Hong Kong, but a lot of work will need to take place between now and then.  Let us know your thoughts as we prepare for the future of sustainable seafood in Asia.  See you in the Fall of 2012 in Hong Kong!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Seafood Summit: Day 3 - Summit comes to a close

It's hard to believe that the final day of the Summit came and went, but not without some incredible milestones worth noting.  The sessions were well attended and engaging even on the last day, which is a true testament to the incredible content in each of them.

Delegates who join us for the closing presentation had the honor of being addressed by His Royal Highness the Price of Wales in a pre-recorded video in which he discussed the need to improve fisheries and take a collaborative approach to research.  He noted that while positive steps are being made through multi-stakeholder partnerships, the way forward will not be without intractable problems.  His hope is that partnerships can be found so it is crucial that we keep talking for as long as it takes.  Partnerships must be built that safeguard biodiversity and sustain livlihoods based on fishing to achieve balance toward a more sustainable future. 

His Royal Highness made it clear that while it is easy to despair, solutions are in our grasp.  We can see thriving and productive oceans, if we do change our fishing policies.  His Highness’ regret was that he couldn’t join the delgates in person, but recognized all of the tireless work Summit attendees old and new have been conducting for years, and experessed gratitude and encouraged leadership toward a sustainable future.  “Enlightened individuals have the biggest influence,” he said; a big compliment to every single Summit attendee. 

Hong Kong night skyline
SeaWeb’s own Melanie Siggs took the stage for the final close, with a big announcement on the tip of her tongue.  Where the Summit will be hosted next is not just about geography.  There are physical and geographic challenges to moving the sustainable seafood movement forward so the need to go to Asia is important more than ever.  Melanie announced that the 2012 Seafood Summit will take place in Hong Kong, on a 18 months schedule instead of the traditional 12 months schedule.  So, hopefully we’ll see you on in Hong Kong in the fall of 2012?

Give us a little reflection and listening time about how we make it a success.  We want to engage more with colleagues to help bring them in and improve on all of our successes from the past.  Between now and then, we hope to conduct many business roundtables, workshops, attend the Brussels Seafood Show and Boston Seafood Show, engage in the World Seafood Congress and World Fisheries Congress and continue the conversation on an international basis. 

Our common goal is global sustainability.  We hope you’ll continue to be a part of the conversation.   Though the Summit isn't officially over - delegates will join us early Thursday morning for a trip across the borden into Washington State to tour of a halibut fishery and visit to Seattle's famous Pike Place Market.  Stay tuned for a recap of those adventures soon.
And now, to celebrate the many successes of the 2011 Seafood Summit!

The Future of Seafood Sustainability & China

The China seminar, China's Seafood Marketplace: Our Common Future, was certainly a discussion of scale...on how to think and rethink our engagement on sustainability given the world's largest population group, largest exporter, and biggest consumer of seafood per capita. An illustration provided by Jack Liu, Zhangzidao Fishery Group, is the immense size of their shellfish production area, which covers 1,500 square kilometers, an impossible reality in other parts of the world. A major takeaway provided by Hugo Contreras, Cargill, and supported by other speakers is that the world must face the changing reality of "made in China" to "made for China". Finally, Peter Redmayne, SeaFare Group, noted that a major key to successful engagement in China is building trust and understanding the importance of guanxi, which loosely translates to one's personalized network of influence. It seems a lot of this relationship building for business is built around dinner and drinks, with emphasis on the drinks! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spot Prawn Fishery Field Experience

A select few Summit delegates had the unique opportunity to join fishermen Steve Johansen and Frank Keitsch aboard the Organic Ocean spot prawn fishing boat early Tuesday morning.  It was a hard sell to ask the 6 delegates to tear themselves away from the thought provoking sessions, or leave the comfort of the climate controlled conference center and brave the unseasonably cold Vancouver temperatures for a two-hour excursion, but those things were quickly forgotten once on the water.  As we boated toward the snow-capped peaks in the distance, Steve and Frank gave insight into Organic Ocean’s philosophy and how important it is to keep the fishery sustainable for their own business needs as well as for the longevity of the species.  Steve and Frank harvest their spot prawns with traps rather than nets, which leave little impact on the sea bed and allow for little to no by catch.  In additional, much of what Organic Ocean harvests is distributed to local restaurants, which keeps their environmental impact and carbon footprint low.   After a short 15 minute boat ride we arrived at their buoys and watched as they pulled up the traps, which boasted colorful and active spot prawns.  These traps had been placed 24 hours prior and while they produced plentiful prawns for our viewing – and tasting - pleasure; one can imagine how bountiful they would be over a whole season. 

Instead of trying to describe with words the incredibly interesting experience learning about BC’s spot prawn fishery, I’ll revert to the saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  One last thought before I leave you with these snapshots: Steve’s infectiously positive attitude left the delegates with a lot to be hopeful about, both in terms of the spot prawn fishery and fisheries in general.  Maybe we need more of a positive attitude to move in the right direction?

We conduct these field experiences as part of the Seafood Summit because it gives the delegates the opportunity to see (and touch, and taste and feel) fisheries in their true form, and truly wrap their heads around what works and what doesn’t.  Hopefully you'll be able to join us one one of these trips in the future.

Congratulations to Seafood Champions Finalists!

Congratulations are resounding through the hallways for the SeaWeb Seafood Champion finalists, which were announced at the Summit. The Seafood Champions are nominated annually and recognize individuals and companies for outstanding leadership in promoting environmentally responsible seafood. The award was established to honor those in the seafood industry whose contributions demonstrate a commitment to innovation that leads to change. Selected from more than 50 nominees, the 2011 Seafood Champion finalists are:
  • Robert Clark, Executive Chef, C Restaurant & Harry Kambolis, CEO, Kambolis Group. Vancouver, Canada
  • Phil Gibson, Seafood Group Director, Safeway Inc. California, United States
  • Dune Lankard, Founder & Chairman, Eyak Preservation Council. Alaska, United States
  • Steve Phillips, President and CEO, Phillips Foods and Seafood Restaurant. Maryland, United States
  • Olivier Roellinger, Vice-Président, Relais & Châteaux. Paris, France
  • Peter Weeden, Chef, Paternoster Chop House. London, United Kingdom
  • Falmouth Fishselling Co. Cornwall, United Kingdom
  • Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Olympia, Washington, United States

Many Seafood Champions from years past are among the 700 plus attendees this year and all working together to continue to push the envelope of progress toward sustainability! Melanie Siggs, SeaWeb vice president for sustainable markets congratulated the finalists saying On behalf of those who nominated them and the panel of independent judges, we are delighted to recognize these eight finalists for their significant efforts to ensure responsibility is at the forefront of their activities and businesses. We look forward to presenting the 2011 Seafood Champion Awards at the Boston Seafood Show in March.”

Photos of Dune Lankard and Robert Clark

Seafood Summit: Day 2 - Thoughts as we enter a new day

 A thought-provoking plenary session kicked off Day Two of the 2011 Seafood Summit with a pre-filmed video presentation by Dr. Ray Hillborn.   He then joined the conference to take questions from participants via live link from New Zealand.  Dr. Hillborn presented his thoughts on the state and trends of the world fisheries, and the efficiencies of eating from the sea versus the land.  Hillborn indicated that based on the work he and others have undertaken recently that the majority of fish stocks are stable and not in rapid decline. One of the conclusions he reached was that terrestrial agriculture has greater overall impact and uses far more energy and resources than fishing.  He highlighted the example of the relative efficiencies of protein generation to feed Chilean anchoveta to fish (aquaculture) rather than farmed animals. The overall message was that the state of fisheries is not straightforward and that we need to look at the broader elements which includes the state of the ecosystem, and how it is modified and maintained.

If ever there was a need to clone oneself it is at the Summit! The array of interesting sessions makes for tough choices.  The morning’s offerings included exploration of food security in the Coral Triangle, the challenges of traceability in Mediterranean farmed Bluefin tuna, to the role of producers businesses and governments in eliminating confusion about sustainable choices for consumers.

Dr. Alan Knight
Alan Knight (The Virgin Group) highlighted that sustainability is a challenge facing all supply chains and raised the question for what's next for ecolabels and product stewardship. He poised the question of how many ecolabelling schemes do we need to solve the problems of the planet and recommended the need to coordinate these schemes.  He also emphasized the importance of ‘knowing your product’s story’ and that business and CSR needs to get to grips with that story.