Road to Boston: Sustainable seafood

Sustainability will again be a focus at this year’s International Boston Seafood Show, with one conference at the three-day event in March designed to help businesses source sustainable seafood.

Proposed by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, “Where’s the Fish? Business Solutions for Sustainable Sourcing” provides an opportunity for companies at different levels of the supply chain to share their solutions to the challenges of sourcing sustainable seafood. The discussion will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the panelists and audience.

“By selling more sustainable seafood, businesses can ensure a secure supply of seafood for years to come, demonstrate their leadership on an important environmental issue and meet the needs of customers who are increasingly asking for products that are better for the environment,” said Michelle Jost, director of sustainable practices at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, who’s moderating the discussion.

“Many companies have made a commitment to sustainable seafood, but the rubber hits the road when they begin to implement those commitments. We hear from businesses that they are confronting a number of challenges related to sustainable sourcing,” added Jost. “For example, for retailers it can be difficult to find enough sustainable product to meet their needs. Producers need to find ways to provide products that meet new sustainability requirements from buyers. What is really exciting is that companies are innovating to overcome these challenges, and there are many different yet effective paths forward.”

Sal Battaglia, director of marketing at Seacore Seafood, will discuss how the Vaughan, Ontario, company has partnered with Canadian NGO Sea Choice to address the challenges of sourcing sustainable seafood to meet the needs of its retail and foodservice customers. Battaglia will talk about Seacore’s OceanPrime sustainable seafood program, which has expanded since its inception in August 2008.
“The sustainable seafood sourcing issues we have faced range from traceability of seafood to volume and everything in between. They’re all different challenges and require different solutions. During my presentation, I’ll share some examples of how we’re working to overcome these challenges,” said Battaglia.

Patrick Riley, general manager of Western Seafood Co., will discuss how the Freeport, Texas, company has become more efficient in producing sustainable wild Gulf shrimp. “Production efficiency and sustainability tend to go hand and hand in wild fisheries,” said Riley. “I will discuss trends in Gulf shrimp production in relation to the number of vessels and the increase in CPUE (catch per unit effort) and what it means for the producers who are left in the business.”

Riley will also address the question, “Are those seeking to source a truly sustainable product willing to pay for the product they seek?”

“If you are going to affect change on the production end, the easiest way to do it is show the producer there is a monetary incentive for that change,” said Riley.

The panelists will also include Tracy Taylor, senior buyer at Ahold USA, and Logan Kock, VP of strategic purchasing and responsible sourcing at Santa Monica Seafood.

Register for the International Boston Seafood Show’s conference program.

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