Summit explores new sustainable horizons
By Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business editor and associate publisher
06 September, 2012
As the first day of the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong came to a close it was clear through the many discussions about sustainable seafood that the dialog has moved well beyond the basic question of “what is sustainability?”
The day started off with an opening ceremony with remarks from local dignitaries and a Traditional Lion Dance. For those of us in the room dealing with a dramatic time zone change the dance was a loud but welcome wakeup call and a nice introduction to the city’s culture.
The keynote by Stephen Hall, director general of the WorldFish Centre, raised several important topics that I haven’t heard broached at a venue such as this. One topic is the growth in demand for farmed product from Asia. The shift in demand will mean more product is needed for domestic consumption, which has implications for future trade policies and is an opportunity for producers, said Hall. A significant issue that needs to be addressed is demand AND the need for seafood consumption; studies have shown stunted growth in children under 5, as well as anemia in mothers. Increased fish consumption can greatly reduce such health-related problems, noted Hall.
He also noted that the seafood industry has failed to realize its schizophrenia, that there’s a difference between the fish demand and need. Fish farmers want to produce big fish, however consumer demand is largely for small fish. Hall also noted the polarities in the fish food system, such as between aquaculture and wild fisheries. Pangasius and tilapia production has had a profound impact on wild fisheries, but how much of an effect and what is the shift?
The seafood industry needs to start asking these questions, as Hall termed it, “joining the dots” and asking itself if the right seafood discussions are being held to get to the new horizons.
Meanwhile, a panel of retailers later in the day showed that there are very different approaches to developing a sustainable seafood program. For example, Loblaw Co. in Canada set a hard date for when it wanted to implement a sustainable seafood program, however Coles Supermarkets in Australia has not set a hard date for compliance with its program.
The day ended with the announcement of the Innovation Award to recognize companies and individuals who have the will to go forward and surpass trends. The winners are Verlasso, Dalian Zhangzido Fishery Group, Chef Nora Pouillon and the Google (Mt. View) Food Team. Congratulations to all of the winners of this new award!
06 September, 2012