Wild Salmon Center launches global fishery improvement group with High Liner support
Undercurrent News- February 10, 2015
Ocean Outcomes, a new global fishery improvement organization, launched officially at the Seafood Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, the organization said Wednesday.
Launched by the Wild Salmon Center (WSC), Ocean Outcomes – or O2 – is an international group of fishery experts who work hand-in-hand with high-risk commercial fisheries to increase the supply of sustainable seafood.
“The demand for sustainable seafood is at an all-time high, but sourcing options are limited: the majority of the world’s commercial fisheries remain at risk,” says Rich Lincoln, executive director of Ocean Outcomes. “Many of these fisheries operate at the margins of profitability — they have a lot to gain from improving their practices, but need support to do so. We can help.”
Ocean Outcomes aims to help fisheries design and reach sustainability goals.
“We are proud to launch Ocean Outcomes,” said Guido Rahr, president and CEO of WSC. “The future of wild fish depends in large part on conservation-minded commercial fishermen and local communities. Creating conservation agreements while opening up new markets for these fish has been a breakthrough for us with salmon fisheries– especially in Asia and Russia. This move allows us to take the successful fishery improvement model we developed for wild salmon and expand it to other wild fisheries.”
Ocean Outcomes also connects improving fisheries with large buyers and stakeholders interested in sustainability, such as High Liner Foods.
“As an international seafood company, we have a stake in the health of global fisheries,” High Liner corporate director of sustainability, Bill DiMento, said. “O2 helps us develop strategies to work with local seafood suppliers and fisheries to make practical, on-the-water improvements.”
Fisheries with highest margin for improvement
High-risk fisheries face a multitude of challenges, including poaching and illegal fishing, habitat destruction, hatchery production, and bycatch. These fisheries can also see a big upside from improvements, both in rebounding stocks and rising value of the fishery. It all starts with fishermen buying into a shared roadmap to improvement.
“Without fishermen participating in the improvement process, it won’t be a sustainable fishery,” said Brian Caouette, founder and director of programs at Ocean Outcomes.
Ocean Outcomes will focus its initial work in Russia and Japan, regions that house globally important fisheries with strong opportunities for improvement.
“Both regions are tough environments for those unfamiliar with the local cultures or politics,” said Caouette. “Figuring out how to get local buy-in is the big step.”
Caouette is addressing this issue in panel discussion on how the Far East will determine the future of global fisheries on Tuesday. What these fisheries are doing to become more sustainable is a major focus.
“Japan has a long history of fishing,” Kazuhito Fukuda, the deputy director of sales for the Hokkaido Federation of Fishermen’s Cooperative, which manages the largest chum fishery in the world. “It’s part of our culture. That’s why it’s so important for us to work with people who understand the Japanese mindset and Japanese fisheries. The O2 team understands this: they work with us, not against us, as we strive for more sustainable fisheries.”
Hand-in-hand with commercial fishermen
Ocean Outcomes is founded on the premise that successful fishery improvement requires local support and must provide tangible benefits to the communities and commercial fisheries involved.
The organization’s leaders and staff have a long history of working with fishing communities in Japan, Russia, and North America to achieve sustainability certification and fishery improvements. For example, they helped fisheries in Russia develop innovative observer programs to curb poaching; and in Japan, they worked with fishing communities to conduct stock assessments and removed old dams to improve salmon runs.
“We’ve been working with the O2 team for over six years. They understand our problems,” explains Dmitry Matveev of Taranai, a fishing company based in Sakhalin, Russia. “They know all of our businesses, the entire essence of the obstacles that we face in Russia. They help us analyze the problems, address them, and relay this information to others.”
Building connections in supply chain
Central to the organization’s connections with buyers is the Salmon FIP Partnership, a collaborative initiative led by O2 which includes seafood companies Gortons Foods, High Liner, the Fishin’ Co, Nestle/Purina, and Albion Fisheries.
On the Kamchatka Peninsula, the partnership has already helped increase the supply of sustainable and improving wild salmon fisheries to half of regional production. In another example, O2 launched its first “Let’s Talk Fish” dialogue last November. This annual event connects all the pieces of a complex supply chain, bringing buyers interested in sustainability to fish producing regions.
“A lot of fishermen don’t know where their fish go after it leaves the docks,” said O2’s Julie Kuchepatov, who has worked in Russia for over 20 years. “We’re building supply chain connections so that fishermen understand the growing demand for sustainable products and reap the benefits of tackling hard conservation problems.”
Sustainable Seafood Summit Focuses on Aquaculture and Regulating Imports
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [NOLA.com and the Times Picayune] By Benjamin Alexander-Block – February 10, 2015
An annual summit on sustainable seafood kicked off Monday, February 9, in New Orleans, focusing on reasons to promote national aquaculture efforts and better regulate imported farmed seafood.
In her keynote address, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said that while federal catch limits are helping to “end overfishing and rebuild our nation’s fish stocks … the simple fact is that the global abundance of human beings are rising but the global abundance of human fish stocks are not.
“Half of the seafood we eat (in the United States) comes from aquaculture,” Sullivan said. But, by far the majority of that is imported from abroad, mainly from Asia fishery aquaculture markets.
She pointed to Louisiana’s strong commercial fishing industry but said the Gulf of Mexico and the country as a whole must embrace aquaculture that can create more jobs and profits for local fisheries industries, as well as help meet future global seafood needs as human populations grow.
A proposed federal Gulf Aquaculture Plan published last year would allow up to 20 offshore aquaculture operations to be permitted in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico over a 10-year period. NOAA Fisheries currently is reviewing public comments made to the plan before it releases its a final report, likely later this year.
Opponents to fishing farming often cite wide-ranging concerns about damage to the Gulf’s environment, as well as the effect the industry could have on traditional fishing communities that have relied on catching and selling wild fish. But supporters argue the industry would provide an alternative domestic supply to imported, farm-raised seafood.
About 85 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, with about half of that from aquaculture farms in other countries, according to the U.S Department of Commerce. Meanwhile, domestic aquaculture provides only about 5 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S, according to previous released NOAA figures. And, about 80 percent of domestic marine aquaculture consists of shellfish, mainly oysters, clams and mussels.
In 2009, the same year the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council first drafted its aquaculture plan, aquaculture crossed the threshold of providing more than half of all seafood consumed worldwide, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
That means more than half of the fish and shellfish consumed globally was raised by humans and no longer caught in the wild. In 1970, farmed fish only accounted for about 6 percent of global seafood supply.
Along with domestic aquaculture, Sullivan discussed her role co-chairing the presidential task force to regulate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. She highlighted a biennial report that NOAA released to Congress on Monday identifying six nations — Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Portugal — as engaging in such fishing violations.
“As one of the largest importers of seafood in the world, the United States has a global responsibility and economic duty to ensure that the fish we import is caught sustainably and legally,” she said.
Following her speech, Russell Smith, NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries, and Sally Yozell, the U.S. Department of State’s senior advisor of the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, explained that if foreign violators don’t improve their fisheries practices, the U.S. could stop their fishers from docking at local ports and prohibit their seafood imports as whole.
Several hundred people attended the first of the three-day SeaWeb Seafood Summit at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. SeaWeb is a nonprofit with the mission of “creating a culture of ocean conservation.”
During a Monday panel on the impact of aquaculture on world protein markets, Michael Rubino, the director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, said “there is a generational change taking place in terms of how we grow seafood.”
He explained that farming shellfish and finfish often is “a resource efficient way of producing protein” in that “you can grow a lot of seafood in a very small space.”
He and others on that panel discussed how aquaculture is taking off in the northeast and the northwest, often with shellfish — oysters, clams and mussels — but with seaweed, salmon and other fish farming as well.
“We need to change public perception” about aquaculture, Rubino told the crowd. “We need to tell a better story for why aquaculture is important for coastal communities and resilience.”
Barton Seaver, the director of Harvard School of Public Health’s Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative, said that in the sustainable seafood movement, society often has “venerated the farmer but we have vilified the fisher as a farmer.” He noted how we don’t buy “wild pork” but how people still often want wild seafood even though farmed seafood can be just as environmentally friendly.
And Rubino said that as there are advances in genomics and genetics, more species could be farmed “here in the Gulf at affordable prices.”
He said in the future, aquaculture could bring the majority of shrimp production back “from southeast Asia to consuming countries.”
“I think the science is going to surprise us,” Rubino said. “There are enormous advances that are going to take place.”
IN BRIEF – New GAA Fund To Further Responsible Aquaculture
FIS.COM – February 11, 2015
The Global Aquaculture Alliance is launching an initiative to finance a range of projects to further responsible aquaculture and ultimately increase the availability of certified seafood production worldwide, the organization announced in early February.
Hatchery reared red king crab survive well when released into the wild
AKCRRAB News Flash – February 2015
Trident Basin, near Kodiak, is now home to a group of hatchery-reared red king crab. NOAA researchers Chris Long, Pete Cummiskey, and Eric Munk released 11,250 crab into experimental plots in August 2014, and have tracked their survival and movement. The released juveniles were reared at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery from broodstock collected in Alitak Bay in fall 2013. So far, the hatchery crab have survived about as well as juvenile crab survive in the wild—evidence that future rehabilitation efforts in Kodiak could be ecologically viable.
The Editor’s View: Crunch Time in Alaska, And What Buyers Can do to Help
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [the Editor’s View] by John Sackton – February 10, 2015
In 2013, Alaska produced 63% of all domestic Seafood in the US, and accounted for 35% of the total value.
US buyers have gotten used to relying on Alaska for their seafood programs and menu offerings. This is the basis of many campaigns about wild caught cod, salmon, and king crab, and also for many high value specialty species like halibut, black cod or sablefish, and snow crab.
But Alaska is under the gun. After decades of success with fishery management, and a healthy economic climate for the seafood industry, this year is crunch time.
A series of things are coming together that will challenge Alaska fisheries this year, and it is worth pointing out that this is a year when Alaska Fisheries need vocal public support from buyers to help weather the storms.
First the challenges:
-Efforts to restrict Halibut by-catch will impact trawl fisheries, for both cod and flatfish, and possibly in a small way for pollock. Buyers should recognize this trade-off for what it is – putting the principle of conservation first, even when it is economically painful.
Many other political jurisdictions would sweep this problem under the rug, and continue allocating fish above recommended levels in the hopes the problem will take care of itself. Alaska’s commitment to conservation means it does not have that luxury.
-Financial Restructuring and Sales: At this time two major Alaska Companies, Icicle Seafoods, the 2nd largest American owned shore based processor, and American Seafoods, are both facing possible changes to their corporate structure or sale.
Paine and Partners, the equity firm that bought Icicle about seven years ago, has publicly stated it is looking at sales options, and is open to deals that split up some of the company’s assets.
Meanwhile, American Seafoods will have to find a way to restructure its debt, as current market conditions including prices for Alaska pollock, make servicing the debt untenable.
This casts an unusual level of uncertainty over the industry, as potential structural changes lie ahead.
-Oil prices and budgets. The Alaska state budget runs on oil money, and with the price of oil down 50%, a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall is developing. So far, ADF&G, the state agency responsible for regulating fisheries, and ASMI- The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute – have not seen huge cutbacks in spending. However, it is obvious that budgets are going to tighten, and both ASMI and the ADF&G will have to focus on core priorities.
This means that those who support Alaska’s model of sustainable fisheries will need some perspective, and not listen to those voices who demand spending on fisheries issues without regard to the current budget situation.
-Bering Sea Canyons. Currently many retailers are being targeted in a campaign to discredit Alaska’s management of habitat for deep water corals. The Greenpeace campaign is being deliberately run in opposition to the best scientific consensus, and is being rushed forward before discussions about coral habitat and fishing impacts are set to be discussed in June of this year. That is when the results of the most comprehensive benthic survey of Bering Sea coral hotspots ever done will be presented. We think the reason for Greenpeace’s haste is that they cannot stand the light of good science, so must build a campaign that ignores the most reputable science findings.
Taken together, buyers will be hearing about all of these problems this year. Those who value sustainability and long term success in fisheries management will recognize that the Alaskan Fisheries need friends and defenders at this time, and will not be afraid to speak up to protect the heart of their long term seafood programs.
Putting Science and conservation first is not always economically easy. So lets recognize that fact and give credit where it is due when the industry and managers remain true to their basic sustainability principles.
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