Moving sustainability bar means engaging people


Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business associate publisher and editor

Published on
September 6, 2012

Policymakers who are trying to enact change that moves the bar on sustainable seafood have many challenges depending on their location, but the common denominator is people. Whether they have to garner support from politicians or implement programs that put fishermen out of work, policymakers wide and far have to answer to the people they serve and it’s not always easy.

Yesterday’s keynote panel at the International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong, “Evolving Policies for New Horizons” was presented by Dr. Patricia Majluf, who was minister of fisheries in Peru for only 2 months and 10 days and had a conservation agenda that triggered strong reactions.

“I was putting out fires the entire time and survived several protests. It was a strong barrier to starting a dialog. Most groups had a preconceived notion that I cared more about environment than about people,” said Majluf of Cayetano Heredia University in Peru.

Nadia Bouffard, director general of fisheries and aboriginal policy in Canada’s Department of Fisheries & Oceans, offered best practices that can help achieve government support for policy channels to achieve sustainable seafood. Those practices included being clear and focused about objectives; getting support from key stakeholders; being flexible on solutions to problems; not undermining action by achieving a blanket or perfect solution; involving the public early in the process; and understanding government decision-making and budgeting systems.

Dr. Hussain Hassan, minister of state for fisheries and agriculture in the Maldives, said third-party certifications for sustainable fisheries need to consider people. “You won’t have sustainable fisheries if our lives aren’t sustainable,” said Hassan.

Ocean acidification was the topic of a panel that could not only impact the sustainability of all marine species but also have a huge impact on people around the world. U.S. legislation to support research and control the root causes of OA has not been developed, noted Brad Warren of the Global Ocean Health Program, but leaders to help the movement are desperately needed. OA panelist Neil Sims of Kampachi Farms LLC urged non-governmental organizations to partner with industry and policymakers to find a solution. “We must do something, but we must start now,” said Sims.

If there was one topic that could galvanize the sustainable seafood movement, OA should be it.

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