Responsibility emphasized at Seafood Summit

By

Fiona Robinson, SeaFood Business associate publisher and editor

Published on
January 31, 2011

Responsibility was the theme repeated throughout the opening day of SeaWeb’s International Seafood Summit 2011, which opened on Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Working off the theme “Responsibility Without Borders?,” several panel participants throughout the day mentioned that the buzzword of sustainability is being replaced with the word responsibility.

“We are at an important crossroads for the growing seafood sustainability movement,” Dawn Martin, SeaWeb President, told more than 700 attendees at the ninth annual event. “Seafood is a global commodity and part of our global commons. As such, it is our collective responsibility to thoughtfully and collaboratively manage this valuable resource. The scope of this responsibility is enormous, the politics daunting and the economics critical, and it is just these challenges that underlie the theme of this year’s summit.”

The Seafood Summit brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussion surrounding sustainable seafood.

Henry Demone, president and CEO of High Liner Foods, the summit’s principal sponsor, implored summit attendees to learn from the sustainable seafood success stories such as New Zealand hoki and the Baltic Sea cod resource and not demonize some sectors like salmon aquaculture and groundfishing. “We need to be reminded of our successes and build a more sustainable future for us all moving forward,” said Demone.

Summit keynoter Yvon Chouinard, co-founder of Patagonia and One Percent for the Planet, shared his company’s experience as it went through an environmental assessment of its products, including all fabrics and dyes.

“You have to ask enough questions to get to the cause of the problems. Education gives you choices; my company exists to make those choices," he said. “We have put into practice all the things that smart people say we have to do to save the planet.”
Chouinard recommended that seafood companies be transparent and divulge any bad things they may be doing in a corporate sustainability report instead of only telling the good stories.

Jim Cannon of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership said sustainability needs to be “unpacked” beyond the North American and European retailers already involved to get the foodservice sector involved.

Cannon also noted that while the majority of North America’s and Europe’s seafood supply is “within our reach to fix.” However, challenges remain in the developing world to bring overfishing under control.

Additionally, SeaWeb’s Seafood Champions finalists were unveiled on Tuesday during the opening session of the Seafood Summit 2011. Click here to view the list of finalists.

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