By Cliff White, Executive Editor
Published on Friday, March 17, 2017
The 16 finalists have been announced for the 2017 Seafood Champion Awards, the seafood community's premier honor recognizing outstanding leadership in promoting environmentally responsible seafood.
The Seafood Champion Awards are presented by SeaWeb, a program of The Ocean Foundation. SeaWeb serves the sustainable seafood community by supporting a coordinated infrastructure of people and knowledge to guide, inspire and reward the seafood industry’s uptake of sustainable practices. The awards have been given annually since 2006 to world leaders who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing seafood sustainability.
This year, the Seafood Champion Awards will be awarded at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, taking place 5 to 7 June, 2017, in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. [Editor’s note: SeaWeb and Diversified Communications, owner of SeafoodSource.com, jointly produce the SeaWeb Seafood Summit.]
In the leadership category, the finalists include Wally Stevens, the executive director of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, where he has developed the Best Aquaculture Practices certification and worked through a variety of channels to promote responsible aquaculture; Mariah Boyle, who is being recognized for her work in urging seafood companies to set commitments to improving traceability, social responsibility and combatting IUU fishing; Susi Pudjiastuti, an Indonesian businesswoman who has turned her attention to fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as her country’s Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; and Sea Pact, a nonprofit consisting of nine North American seafood companies that award grants to fisheries improvement projects around the globe.
In the innovation category, Silicon Valley-based Pelagic Data Systems has created a solar-powered lightweight position tracking system for small vessels that can be used to combat IUU fishing. FISH-I Africa, a partnership of eight East African nations, has created a low-cost information-sharing solution to combat illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean. Lovewell is the founder and CEO of Real Good Fish, a community supported fishery in Monterey Bay, California. In 2012, Alan started Bay2Tray, providing low-income schoolchildren nutritious meals by utilizing bycatch in the local black cod fishery. Warr, of Better Fishing Ltd., has improved the sustainability of bottom trawling with an easily fitted cage mechanism that can free 95 percent of juvenile fish, saving fuel costs and allowing fishers to catch species selectively.
For vision, Green Wave’s Bren Smith, a commercial fisherman, has created a replicable, scalable model of 3D ocean farming. Matt Beaudin is leading the shift to local and sustainable seafood in the restaurant scene in and around Monterey Bay, California. The Global Ghost Gear Initiative helps clean up lost or abandoned fishing gear and has spearheaded the implementation of net recycling. And the Marine Research Foundation has been working to protected endangered sea turtles while making Malaysia’s shrimp industry more sustainable.
In the advocacy category, Bill Mook, based in Maine, has been a leader in modeling how shellfish growers can address the threat of ocean acidification. The International Pole and Line Foundation promotes socially and environmentally responsible pole-and-line fisheries around the world. Ned Bell, the Ocean Wise executive chef at Vancouver Aquarium, founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness about sustainable seafood. And Palau Ambassador Caleb Otto’s work at the United Nations to highlight ocean sustainability issues has made Palau a leader in drawing attention to the human and environmental threats to livelihoods that depend on the ocean.
“This year’s finalists have a global perspective, whether they act locally or at a broader level,” said Mark Spalding, president of SeaWeb and The Ocean Foundation. “Improving seafood’s sustainability requires addressing difficult political, technical, social and economic questions. To create change, you have to forge alliances and bring people together around a common cause. These are not easy things to do, but the Champions on this list have forged ahead and are making real progress.”
Meet the 2017 Seafood Champion Awards Finalists
Seafood Champion Award Finalists, Leadership: Displays leadership by organizing and convening seafood stakeholders to improve the sustainability of seafood and ocean health.
• Mariah Boyle, Traceability Division Director, FishWise
• Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
• Sea Pact
• Wally Stevens, Executive Director, Global Aquaculture Alliance
Seafood Champion Award Finalists, Innovation: Identifies and applies creative new solutions to address ecological challenges, existing market needs, or barriers to sustainability.
• FISH-i Africa
• Alan Lovewell, Real Good Fish
Pelagic Data Systems
• Karl Warr, Better Fishing Ltd.
Seafood Champion Award Finalists, Vision: Establishes a clear and compelling vision of the future that inspires positive change for sustainable seafood in technology, policy, products or markets, or conservation tools.
• Matt Beaudin, Monterey Bay Aquarium
• Global Ghost Gear Initiative
• Marine Research Foundation
• Bren Smith, Green Wave
Seafood Champion Award Finalists, Advocacy: Positively influences public policy, uses the media to raise the profile of sustainable seafood, or influences public discourse and engages key stakeholders by publicly championing advances in sustainable seafood.
• Ned Bell, Vancouver Aquarium
• International Pole & Line Foundation
• Bill Mook, Mook Sea Farm
• H.E. Dr. Caleb Otto, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations