Supply Chains Are Key to Change for Sustainable Fisheries and Oceans

Monica Jain, National Geographic Ocean Views. Feb 26, 2014.

When we buy seafood, whether it’s salmon, scallops, or sea bass, we may ask where the fish is from or how fresh it is. Is it local? Caught today? Farmed?

And we may conjure up an image of a fisherman on the water, but we rarely think about the full path that fish took on its way to our plates. Similarly, when we hear about environmental innovations in seafood, it is often around specific changes to how we catch or farm fish – use of turtle excluder devices, changes in fishery quotas, or new aquaculture feeds, for example.

But simply improving one element of the supply chain in isolation will not get us to sustainable oceans.  Without businesses throughout the supply chain that value and differentiate sustainable seafood from pirated, illegal, or wastefully processed products, there is no market incentive for fish farmers or fishermen to change their production or capture practices.

It is also important that businesses that value sustainability demonstrate that they are successfully carving out market share from traditional sources, providing investors with confidence in these businesses’ ability to succeed and grow – and encouraging them to provide the capital needed to scale their operations.

Simply put, all these links together mean that, to see large-scale business growth of fish farms and fishing operations that use sustainable practices, we need more business innovation at every point along the seafood supply chain and in the connections among these pieces.

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