Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Starting the Dialogue about the Great Seafood Debate

On a grey, drizzly Tuesday morning, 50 or so participants converged upon the University of Delaware for the "Framing the Message About Seafood" conference.

The conference kicked off with 8 presentations representing the government, industry, consumer and advocacy perspective. Each presenter tackled a different set of opportunities and challenges surrounding seafood consumption advisories, from risk communication to sustainability concerns. Following the talks, the attendees broke into four different working groups to distill the morning's messages down into simple, concise messages. After several hours of heated debate, each of the groups walked away from their session with a set of messages conveying the benefits and risks of seafood consumption. Each of these messages will serve as the grounds for tomorrow's discussion to combine and refine each idea into one or several concise consumption recommendations.

That afternoon, the team reconvened in the lobby for a bit of networking and poster presentations. KidSafe Seafood's poster generated some interesting dialogue around the NGO perspective and consumer messaging. Common themes throughout many of the conversations during the presentations and poster session adressed the potential roles, concerns and limitations of the consumer: How much information is too much? Should we communicated the risks AND the benefits? Should environmental messaging be incorporated with health messaging?

Following a quick break, the group joined up again at the conference center for dinner and drinks and the chance to unwind after a long day of discussion and debate. Dinner closed with an engaging dialogue led by Nancy Tringali Piho, author of "My Two-Year-Old East Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything." Parents old and new swapped stories and shared advice, bonding over their shared adventures in parenthood.

Stay tuned to find out if/what consensus is reached...can industry, government, consumer, health and environmental interests all agree on one message??

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