Japanese culinary, media team wins first Co-Lab competition

Published on
March 14, 2018

A team of scientists, journalists, and food culture experts working on a project promoting sustainable seafood in Japan has won the first Seafood Co-Lab competition.

Organized by SeaWeb and the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, the competition seeks to encourage cross-sector collaboration to create innovation solutions to enhance the sustainability of seafood. 

The winning project, Chefs for the Blue, was announced 12 March. It networks Japanese chefs to the global sustainable seafood community to raise awareness about sustainable seafood in Japanese society, according to SeaWeb.

“With its rich food culture, many Japanese are foodies by birth; but few people in Japan are aware of how seriously our seafood resources are being depleted,” said Hiroko Sasaki, food journalist and team leader of Chefs for the Blue. “Chefs are powerful influencers to both consumers and producers in Japan. By supporting their sourcing choices with solid science and amplifying their message through the media and strategic outreach, we can shine a light on the problem that will represent an important step to achieving seafood sustainability in Japan.”

Chefs for the Blue is a collaboration between Sasaki, a professor at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, the seafood rating nonprofit Sailors for the Sea Japan, the sustainable seafood consulting firm Seafood Legacy, and 30 Japanese chefs. For its win, the team receives USD 10,000 (EUR 8,025) and a trip to Barcelona, Spain for the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, taking place 19 to 21 June. 

The winner was selected by popular vote in a process designed to encourage participation among seafood stakeholders, according to SeaWeb. In its inaugural year, the contest received 40 competitive proposals, and more than 5,500 votes from 53 countries were cast amongst four chosen finalists during a four-week voting window. 

FishWise Fishery Improvement Project Director and Co-Lab judge Ethan Lucas, who helped choose the four finalists, said the Seafood Co-Lab “is an idea whose time has come.”

“The high voter turnout and solid sponsor support shows that the seafood community is ready to engage,” he said. “And we have an enormous resource of smarts and experience available, ready to be tapped."  

The Co-Lab is supported by the ocean- and seafood-focused nonprofits and the seafood industry. Sponsors include Australis, Congressional Seafood, Tequesta Bay, Mook Sea Farm, Organic Ocean, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Sea Pact, FishChoice, Sea Delight, and Norpac Fisheries Export. 

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