The Western and Central Pacific region is home to the most productive tuna stock on the planet, providing half of the global tuna supply. It’s an expansive area comprised of small island nations, many of them lacking a navy or air force to monitor and patrol their surrounding waters. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission has various monitoring and surveillance programs in the region, but their efforts are exhausted in an area that covers nearly 20 percent of the Earth’s surface. Combine low levels of monitoring and enforcement with a high value and high demand commodity like tuna, and unsustainable practices such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and forced labor aboard vessels often arise.
The estimated total value of the Pacific tuna catch is $2.4 billion U.S. dollars, of which only $260 million goes to the Pacific island nations from whose waters these tuna are taken. The pressure to minimize costs and maximize profit can lead to forced labor and other human rights violations aboard tuna fishing vessels. Foreign crew can be brought on board under false pretenses to find that they are living in inhumane conditions, given little or no money for their work, and kept at sea for months or years at a time, completely cut off from their friends and family. Poor communication and chain-of-command orders between the captain and foreign crew has been linked to multiple crew injuries and deaths. Many of these illegally operating vessels hide these incidences and their practices by transshipping their tuna catch to smaller boats that then take the catch to port, allowing these large vessels to stay hidden at sea for extended periods of time. This lack of visibility has helped keep the Western and Central Pacific tuna fishery out of previous media exposés on the egregious human rights abuses occurring in the global fishing industry, but recent reports have begun to reveal the brutal practices that can occur aboard these tuna vessels.
Worldwide attempts to keep up with the global demand for tuna have left 35% of tuna stocks overfished and 13% at risk from overfishing. Commonly used gears to catch tuna include purse seines, longlines, and free-floating rafts known as fish aggregating devices, or FADS. These catch methods generally have greater impact on tuna stocks and ocean ecosystems than the more selective methods like troll and pole and line. Approximately half of the global tuna catch comes from FAD fisheries and an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 are placed into the Western and Central Pacific Ocean every year. FADs are highly effective at luring the target species of skipjack tuna, but unfortunately also attract endangered turtles, rays, sharks, and juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna whose populations are overfished and declining.
Some companies are aware of the environmental, traceability, and human rights risks of current tuna sourcing practices and are taking the steps to provide more sustainable options for their customers. These include FishWise’s retail partners who carry sustainably sourced private brands of canned tuna such as Albertson’s Safeway Kitchens, Target’s Simply Balanced, and Hy-Vee’s Select. To learn more about popular brands of canned tuna on supermarket shelves and which ones are leaders in sustainable and ethical tuna sourcing, read Greenpeace’s Tuna Shopping Guide.
(Photo credit: NOAA)
Second Annual 'Taste of the Sea' Event at Casablanca on the Bay Raised Funds and Awareness for Sea Delight Ocean Fund
MIAMI – The Sea Delight Ocean Fund charity hosted its second annual “Taste of the Sea” Masquerade Ball to raise funds and awareness for ocean conservation and sustainable seafood in South Florida. Sponsored by Where South Florida Magazine, the event was held on Friday, Oct. 16 at Casablanca on the Bay in the Grand/Doubletree Hotel in Miami. This year’s festivities drew more than 300 ecologically conscious patrons who all had a fantastic evening and experienced delicious responsibly sourced seafood tasting.
This year, the all-star chefs participated in the “Fish-Off” Challenge where guests voted on their favorite seafood creation. Chef Michell Sanchez from Latin House Grill was the distinguished winner and took home the prize and bragging rights as the Big Fish of the night.
“It was an absolute pleasure and an honor to be involved with, compete in…and win the Taste of the Sea 2015 ‘Fish-off’ Challenge,” said Chef Sanchez. “We had a wonderful time sharing our passion for sustainable seafood with the guests and other participants. We look forward to next year’s event and promise to come up with something even better than what we did this year. #MadLove.”
Other participating restaurants and culinary organizations included The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Piccolo Ristorante, 180° @ the DRB, Casablanca on the Bay, Acentos & Paladares, Federación Latinoamericana de Gastronomía (USA and PR Chapter), The Fish House, The Art Culinary Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, and International Executive Guest Chef Yanick Comeau of Yuzu Sushi. Mimi’s Ravioli and Yayi’s participated in the dessert category.
Collaborating spirits included Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Wynwood Brewing Company, Zaya Rum, Casamigos Tequila and an array of wines from Alma Wines.
In addition to sampling some of the finest responsibly sourced seafood sponsored by Sea Delight and Pier 33 Gourmet and spirits, Sea Delight Ocean Fund brought together leaders in marine ocean conservation for an incredible interactive and educational Conservation area, including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), the Coastal Steward, Universo Marino, University of Miami Shark Research program, and Shark Team One.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Kerri Allen, Education Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, “The best part was being able to speak to guests about threats facing sea turtles, such as by-catch and derelict fishing gear. It was great to be able to talk about sustainable fisheries and fishing practices in such a practical environment with guests enjoying sustainability-sourced seafood. This allowed them to realize how easy it is to make choices that can improve the health of our oceans, and that everyone has the power to make a difference.”
“We appreciated the opportunity to be involved with the 2nd annual Taste of the Sea event this year and to connect with other seafood chefs and organizations as we work together towards a more sustainable future,” said Sandra Cedrone, senior commercial manager – Americas, Marine Stewardship Council.
This year we were also honored to have the support of local artist and creator of Ofishulz Istvan “Steve” Diossy, who donated one of his limited edition prints to our silent auction. “I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Sea Delight Ocean Fund,” Diossy said. “Through my work I am able to bring together ocean life represented through characters by my family and friends. And it is of course humorous, but more importantly, it is necessary for us to realize we are all connected, and making the oceans healthier will in turn create a better and more fulfilling life for us.”
Preferred Freezer Services also sponsored the event on its second year. According to Ryan D. Laurent, Atlantic Regional Director, “It was a pleasure to support Sea Delight and their Ocean Fund charity to raise awareness and support marine conservation. Casablanca on the Bay was a great venue. It had a great ambiance and fantastic food put out by all the local chefs. Preferred Freezer Services will continue to support the Sea Delight Ocean Fund. We look forward to attending another event in the future.”
“We were thrilled with the turnout for our second annual Taste of the Sea event,” said Adriana Sanchez-Lindsay, Sustainability Director of Sea Delight and President of the Sea Delight Ocean Fund. “It was incredible to have the support of these gifted culinary masters and these wonderful organizations dedicated to marine conservation. This year, we were also able to connect the work Sea Delight Ocean Fund does through fishery improvements projects and the overall goal of MSC certification for sustainable seafood.”
About Sea Delight Ocean Fund (SDOF)
The Sea Delight Ocean Fund, is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2012 to create and support global fishery improvement projects and better fishing practices initiatives that protect marine resources and promote conservation efforts globally. All proceeds from this event will help further marine conservation programs led by the Sea Delight Ocean Fund.
FishWise’s Traceability Division Director, Mariah Boyle, is raising money for SeaShare as part of her participation in NFI's Future Leaders program. SeaShare receives donations of seafood products, processing services, transportation and packaging, as well as direct cash contributions. The organization combines these donations to create seafood products that are readily usable by food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries. Nutrient rich, low-cholesterol protein is in short supply for people in need. SeaShare works to ensure that hungry families have access to the superior health benefits that seafood provides.
Our producer partner, EcoFish, proudly donates seafood to SeaShare. President Henry Lovejoy praises SeaShare as “a wonderful organization doing very important work” and says EcoFish is proud to help support their efforts. “The sustainability of our local communities is just as important as the sustainability of our seas. Seafood is an important protein, and as the global population increases and more pressure is put on fisheries, it’s critical that we manage them for the future, so everyone can enjoy the health benefits.” We applaud EcoFish’s participation and encourage all our partners to participate. If you are interested in donating (and in supporting Mariah’s team!), visit the SeaShare donation page.
(Photo Credit: © Seafood Legacy / Nobuyuki Aoki)
In mid-November Project Director, Bill Wall, travelled to Japan to take part in the Sustainable Seafood Market Symposium, coordinated by Seafood Legacy, a newly formed Tokyo-based advisory firm dedicated to improving the overall sustainability of the Japanese seafood industry.
The goal of the symposium was to inform and inspire Japanese businesses to work proactively on sustainable seafood issues, a concept that is comparably new in Japan compared to much of North America and Europe. The rate at which attendees registered for the event was unprecedented according to the host venue, and the result was a room packed with hundreds of individuals with direct interest and influence on the future of Japanese seafood, including representatives from all along the seafood supply chain, local and international NGOs, politicians, academics, media and more!
The afternoon was broken into 3 sections; 1) Understanding the Issue, Urgency and Responsibility, 2) Successful Case Studies: The Feasibility of Sustainable Seafood and 3) Drawing a Roadmap for Japan and all presentations for the day were met with approving nods as well as rapid note taking.
At the reception held after the event, it was generally agreed that the symposium was a great success and that it may well be looked back on as a watershed moment in the transformation of the Japanese seafood industry.
Bill would like to thank Wakao Hanoaka CEO/Founder of Seafood Legacy for allowing him to participate in the event and we look forward to providing updates in future newsletters.
Over 430 seafood professionals attended the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership (GOAL) 2015 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from October 26 to 29, 2015. Social issues have become increasingly relevant to sustainable seafood conversations worldwide, and aquaculture is no exception. This year, the GAA firmly placed the issues of human and labor rights at center stage by convening a Social Responsibility Roundtable driven by expert panelists from FishWise, Seafish, Resiliensea Group Inc., Labour Rights Protection Network, and Regal Springs Tilapia.
FishWise Project Manager Aurora Alifano acknowledged the daunting scale of human and labor rights issues within the industry and recognized that companies need more insight to make impactful changes. She encouraged seafood businesses to implement good labor practices by using their influence to proactively engage their own supply chains, improve transparency, and communicate with vendors and consumers about actions taken and lessons learned. Improving transparency through enhanced traceability is not the only approach needed, but it will help shine a light on problem areas. FishWise is currently working to build connections across businesses, organizations, and governments, and is promoting a call to action for these groups to work together to eliminate human rights abuses and illegal products from supply chains.
Patima Tangprachayakul, Manager of the Thai-based Labour Rights Promotion Network, strongly conveyed the severe situation for fishermen from across Southeast Asia who are abused and trapped living in desperate conditions. The rights group estimates there could be up to 3,000 trafficked victims working on boats in these seas. “There are still thousands more who need help”, she said.
Opportunities exist for all companies to play a major role in safeguarding their supply chains. Greater visibility, identification of risks, and engagement with suppliers to find concrete practical solutions are needed. These efforts will help expand global capacity to supply both environmentally and socially sustainable seafood products. The social responsibility dialogue will continue at the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL 2016 conference in Guangzhou, China.