Blog: Final thoughts from the Seafood Summit
By Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business editor and associate publisher
10 September, 2012
The final day of the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong on Saturday brought another sustainable seafood topics to learn about. That’s the nice thing about reporting on seafood industry, just when you think you’ve covered everything, another new topic comes along.
I had heard the term “fishery improvement project” mentioned in the past but had never listened to the details of what one entailed. So I sat in on a discussion about FIPs, as they’re referred to in the NGO world, to hear more. This panel gathered two producers, one each from the U.K. and Sweden, to share their experiences developing a FIP for two different fisheries in Asia. It was clear after listening to several presentations that the companies involved in FIPs are highly dedicated to improving their respective fisheries.
Sri Lankan tuna was a pilot FIP for Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and New England Seafood International of London, a major buyer in the fishery. While Sri Lanka wanted to establish itself as a sustainable tuna source, the FIP also provides steps toward eventual Marine Stewardship Council certification, says Lucy Blow, New England Seafood International.
What I didn’t realize about FIPs was that some of them can bring competitors together for a common goal. “It’s a non-competitive issue to improve fisheries,” said Blow.
But one pain point in the FIP process is that some producers insist on NOT working with competitors because they don’t trust each other. Jim Cannon of SFP acknowledged that can be a problem and it’s one the organization is trying to work through.
Margaret Xu Yuan of restaurant Yin Yang is one Hong Kong chef leading the charge for sustainable seafood. Here in a city know for shark fin soup, Xu Yuan operates a farm-to-table operation that is introducing alternatives such as no-shark fin soup made with chicken broth to a consumer base with tastes rooted in tradition.
“The bad habits in Hong Kong are in Chinese culture. It’s important that [consumers] save face and show that they have money, and it goes to the most unsustainable things that are hard to find, like coral trout. It’s not sustainable. My mission is to show people you can be successful selling something sustainable with more taste and it’s better for the planet,” said Xu Yuan.
While she faces an uphill battle in this market, the work of other chefs and retailers around the globe has shown it’s possible to introduce the concept of sustainable seafood, even if it’s one bowl of no-shark fin soup at a time.
10 September, 2012