Fruits de mer and more

Bonjour, mes amis. This year’s Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Summit will be held in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and I’m sure all attendees are looking forward to it. Other than flaky croissants, dark coffee and the local fruits de mer, here are a few things I’m looking forward to in Paris next week.

Tuna: Some 50 species strong, tuna is arguably the world’s most important food fish — whether canned or sashimi-grade, people around the world depend on tuna for nutrition and for their livelihoods. Intense attention on depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks provides the perfect example of how highly politicized fishery conservation measures can be. It’s fitting that France, which is mulling an international trade ban on the species, is the setting for Saturday’s Tuna Workshop preceding the main three-day Summit. The session will explore bycatch reduction, the role of the private sector and sustainability as a holistic principle.

Better salmon: A few years ago for the SeaFood Business article, Fuel-Efficient Fish, I interviewed Peter Tyedmers of Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, who helped develop the life-cycle assessment method for food-production operations, including wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture. More or less, it’s a way of determining the carbon footprint of the food we eat and for cutting through the complexities of its production. Well, it doesn’t get much more complex than seafood, and on Sunday I’ll be eager to hear from Tyedmers and others during the session “Building Better Salmon: Improving the life cycle of seafood supply chains from fish to fork,” about what’s new from this intriguing field of study.

Feed: Part of what makes farmed fish such a complex subject is what they are fed. Aquaculture operations are reformulating feed blends with their suppliers to include more vegetable alternatives and less fishmeal, thereby reducing the dependence on forage fisheries. The session “Will salmon feeds become independent from fishmeal?” poses a question I’m sure everyone wants the answer to.

Science: Delivering the event’s keynote address on Sunday morning will be fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly, who was born in France and gained recognition during his years at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, where he was director from 2003 to 2008. Now working on the Sea Around Us Project funded by Pew Charitable Trusts, Pauly is widely regarded as an expert on forage fisheries like menhaden and Peruvian anchovies — fisheries that may seek sustainability certification. His comments should set the tone for an informative and engaging conference.

Definitions: On Monday, during a point-counterpoint panel discussion, there could be lively discourse about what exactly makes a product sustainable. Fishery and ecosystem management are different things, as are our perspectives on sustainability and how it should be defined. It will take much more than 90 minutes to determine sustainability’s definition, but it’s important to try.

Competition: There are three major sets of standards for aquaculture certification, and the administers of all three will convene Tuesday morning at the session, “Aquaculture Standards: Winner take all?” I’ll be sure to grab my seat early for this one as the Global Aquaculture Alliance, World Wildlife Fund and GlobalGAP sit down to chat. It seems that competition is bringing out the best in all three. Does there need to be just one winner?

There are so many more issues on the table, such as illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, traceability, climate change, marine protected areas, catch shares, collaborative ocean industries, business partnerships — the list goes on. The event intends to challenge our assumptions about seafood, the oceans, how our behaviors impact the environment and what we think we know about sustainability. Let’s hope everyone can do just that.

James Wright
Associate Editor
SeaFood Business

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