In webinar series, Seafood Legacy brings sustainability focus to Japanese seafood scene

Seafood Legacy, a Tokyo, Japan-based consultancy that forges connections between sustainable seafood programs and businesses, is hosting a series of free online workshops on sustainable purchasing. The Thursday afternoon workshops, aimed at fishing and distribution companies, research institutions, and others with a commercial or scientific interest in Japanese fisheries, began on 6 August with a Zoom meeting from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Japan time.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a major funder of sustainability NGOs in Japan, including Seafood Legacy. Its website lists five grants to Seafood Legacy totaling USD 1.9 million (EUR 1.6 million): USD 1.5 million (EUR 1.3 million) in 2017 (awarded over a 24-month term); another for USD 50,000 (EUR 42,000) in 2017; and three in 2019 for USD 85,000 (EUR 72,000), USD 212,500 (EUR 180,000), and USD 50,000 (EUR 42,000).

They are also a co-organizer, along with the Walton Family Foundation, of the annual Tokyo Sustainable Seafood Symposium (TSSS2020) which will move exclusively online this year due to COVID-19. Seafood Legacy is an organizer of that show. While TSSS2020 is quite international, the workshops are in Japanese only (excepting for overseas speakers), though it offers simultaneous translation via headsets.

The initial session, titled “Learn about sustainable seafood procurement,”  began with remarks by Seafood Legacy CEO Wakao Hanaoka. Then, Seafood Legacy Senior Chief Aiko Yamauchi gave an introduction of the series and its purpose. Eri Oki, Japan Advisor for the Environmental Protection Science Division of the Packard Foundation then presented on "World Ocean Conservation and Japanese Society’s Awareness."

In a separate session, Satoko Seino, an associate professor with the Department of Environment and Society at Kyushu University, then spoke on the topic “The Current State of Marine Conservation and SDG 14."

SDG 14 stands for United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14, which sets the goal of “Conserv[ing] and sustainably us[ing] the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” The goals were set in 2015 and are meant to be achieved by 2030. Corporations in Japan often try to show at least one achievement for each of the 17 SDGs in their corporate social responsibility reports, which are now routinely issued alongside their annual report to shareholders.

Later, Blue Ocean Mariculture CEO Dick Jones presented “Lessons of Improving Seafood Procurement – A Case Study of Whole Foods in the United States.” Blue Ocean Mariculture is currently the only commercial open-ocean mariculture operation in the United States, producing Hawaiian Kanpachi (Seriola rivoliana). He was named to the position in July this year. He had formerly worked as a seafood buyer for Whole Foods and Texas-based retailer H.E.B. Grocery. Jones was also named as executive director of Portland, Oregon-based Ocean Outcomes (O2) in 2015, and he will continue as a board member after stepping down from that post to lead Blue Ocean Mariculture. O2 is also supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and last year Seafood Legacy absorbed O2’s Japan branch, which was mainly involved in fishery improvement projects.

On 27 August, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Senior Program Manager Ryan Bigelow, Senior Program Manager discussed the use of seafood rating tools in establishing traceability for seafood in a workshop discussion titled, “How to use tools for procurement improvement and positioning of environmental products.”

Three upcoming session are scheduled for 17 September, 15 October, and 26 November. The September session’s theme is "Promot[ing] effective improvement from a medium- to long-term perspective." The lecture will offer advice for securing cooperation between suppliers and producers and creating “win-win” relationships with production sites.

The October event’s theme is "Avoid[ing] new international risks for the fisheries industry and will cover global issues with illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU ) fishing. Specifically, the workshop focus on companies taking a risk-based approach, as dealing with product that may have an IUU origin represents both a reputational and legal/regulatory risk for companies. The lecture will focus on how this risk should be factored into corporate decisions, and will review the report “Perfect Storm – Profits at Risk in the Japanese Seafood Industry,” the release of which was promoted by Seafood Legacy.

In the final event, on 26 November, the theme is “Planning for improvement of procurement.” The lecture will be a review of the policies and plans made in the first workshop, and the workshop will focus on the importance of reviewing and improving policy and planning.


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