Op-ed: Sealaska alliance with NESI will benefit Alaska, the oceans

Matt Carle is the senior director of corporate communications at Sealaska. He lives in Juneau, Alaska, and serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Communications Committee.

One of the biggest challenges facing humanity is how to feed, water, educate, and house a growing population on a finite planet. Seafood is key to addressing this challenge. And at Sealaska, we believe enormous social, environmental, and economic value is possible when strong, like-minded organizations join forces across the world to make a bigger difference.

Our recent alliance with New England Seafood International, a respected London, U.K.-based importer, processor, and supplier of fresh and frozen premium sustainable fish and seafood in the U.K. and Northern Europe, is all about working together with a global mindset. It’s also about inspiring consumers to buy and eat more seafood, and opening new markets and opportunities for Alaska’s bounty.

Investing in ocean health

The scale and international reach of this alliance will build on long-standing dedication to sustainable operations. NESI and Sealaska share a commitment to enhancing results for suppliers, building strong communities, and stewarding our oceans for long-term health.

Sealaska is owned by 23,000 Alaska Native shareholders with 10,000 years of shared history and culture, and a strong sense of connection to one another – and to the land and the sea. Alaska Natives have been sustainably harvesting seafood for millennia. This history informs

Sealaska’s investment in seafood and in ensuring the oceans that sustain that food source thrive. Sealaska’s Orca Bay and NESI are among the 11 founding members of the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, and both are committed to further enhancing the sustainable and ethical credentials of their supply chains. The Marine Stewardship Council has twice awarded NESI Retail Supplier of the Year in the UK, in 2018 and again in 2020. This prestigious award starts with retailer nominations for leaders in sustainability.

“Our work in looking after the oceans and being responsible — that’s part of our DNA,” NESI founder Fred Stroyan said. “We were the first in the U.K. industry to hire someone full-time on the sustainability side. The fact that Sealaska is also focused on ocean health and ocean sciences is a big draw, and very exciting.”

Enhancing lives while promoting ocean health

“Inspiring more seafood consumption is one way to combat the effects of climate change. Fisheries are among the most energy- and water-efficient sources of protein on the planet, according to the University of Washington. Seafood is also among the most nutritious of proteins. But seafood purveyors need to touch people’s hearts to persuade them to eat more seafood,” NESI CEO Dan Aherne said. “The category has been good at addressing the rational elements, such as that seafood is good for you. Unless people have that emotional connection, though, change won’t happen.”

Wild Alaska salmon help make that connection with their own fascinating story. NESI has become widely respected for telling it well, especially with its own brands. Leap, which uses the tagline “Free, not farmed,” is one of those.

Wild Alaska salmon animate Leap. And NESI has proven that building a brand identity can inspire more people to eat seafood. As premium brands have done for chocolate and wine, so they can for sockeye and albacore.

Together, Sealaska and NESI will open more channels and build more demand for Alaskan seafood in the UK and will give Sealaska a chance to put some of NESI’s innovative thinking to work in the United States.

The possibilities are exciting, and we look forward to deepening relationships with fishermen – in Alaska and across the United States.

Photo courtesy of Sealaska


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