|Dire Situation in the Gulf and Perspectives on Ocean Conservation|
This year, World Oceans Day
took place amid a climate of uncertainty as oil continued to flow into the
fragile Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, threatening marshland, beaches and a vibrant
seafood industry. Numerous endangered species are threatened by the disaster,
which is in the migration path for bluefin tuna and other depleted species. As the celebrations of World Oceans Day
have drawn to a close, this edition of Afishianado examines what is happening to the seafood industry
in the Gulf as well as perspectives about what are other pressing issues in
ocean conservation from a British seafood retailer, an American scientist and a French chef.
|Oystermen in Gulf Among Hardest Hit By Spill|
As oil poured into the Gulf, much of the seafood has
stopped coming out. More than 30 percent of federal waters in the Gulf, some of
the most productive fishing areas in the United States, have been closed
primarily as a precautionary measure to prevent any tainted seafood from
entering the market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) also have been employing highly
trained "sensory experts," in addition to lab tests, to detect off smells and
flavors in seafood and to prevent any tainted products from entering the
Photo Credit: Curt Hemmel, Bay Shellfish Co.
Mainly as a result of closures, the Louisiana Seafood
Promotion and Marketing Board estimates that oyster production has decreased
approximately 75 percent in the region. "Oystermen are among those that are
being hit the hardest," says Rene LeBreton, Assistant Director of the Louisiana
Seafood Marketing Board. "This is largely due to the closures of fisheries,
though some have also put themselves and their boats to work for BP, helping
with cleanup activities due to the stable income it provides."
As a result, local eateries are unable to provide certain
menu staples because local oysters and shrimp aren't available. Some have been
forced to move to imported seafood to fill the gaps in local supply, though at
up to twice the price for imported shrimp they've had to either raise prices or
take losses, putting pressure on the industry and further economic pressure on
the region. Given the scope of the crisis, it may be several years before the
Gulf oyster market fully rebounds, leaving the future of businesses dependent
on oysters in the region uncertain.
For additional information on the impacts of
the oil spill, please see SeaWeb's comprehensive online resource center
that includes a compilation of
news articles on the disaster. For information on impacts of the spill to
Louisiana seafood please visit the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board
|Three Perspectives on Ocean Conservation|
The ocean is international but often people experience it locally. One of the challenges with sustainability in the seafood industry is tension between the global demands of the industry and the local realties that fishing communities face. In this special Afishianado feature, three seafood stakeholders share their philosophies on ocean conservation and what led them to seafood sustainability.
- Mike Mitchell, Technical Director, The Seafood Company (Findus Group), United Kingdom
- Holly Bamford, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator, Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States
- Olivier Roellinger, Chef & Vice President, Relais & Châteaux, France
Growing up in Grimsby Leads to Career in SustainabilityMike Mitchell, Technical Director, The Seafood Company (Findus Group), United Kingdom
The ocean and seafood sustainability means a lot to me personally. Being a Grimsby, England, lad, I was raised in an era when fishermen were thought of as heroes and fishing as a noble but often fatal calling. I have been pained by recent decades when these heroes of my childhood have been recast as criminals and irresponsible enemies of the environment. Whilst I have never championed those who have cynically taken more than their fair entitlement, it is heartening to see the potential of a future in which fishermen are no longer disenfranchised from decision-making processes and can once again be appreciated and respected for the difficult and dangerous work they do in bringing seafood to our tables.
There is still a lot to do in order to realize this future, but we have made great progress so far. I have thought for some time that the green seafood movement would develop beyond the limiting strategy of "do buy-don't buy" fish lists that previously prevailed, and that responsible businesses would become increasingly engaged with activities that really make a difference, working towards improving fishery gove
Mike Mitchell, The Seafood Companyrnance and the development of best practice standards for fishing and fish farming. I believe this has been borne out as we witness an unparalleled level of engagement by ourselves (Findus Group) and other seafood processors with governments and national agencies in the evolution of more inclusive and responsible marine policies.
I am very proud of the Findus Group (Findus, Young's and The Seafood Company). I believe that we have made a real difference to our industry in the United Kingdom, Europe and Scandinavia and, indeed, much further. Consequently we have made a significant material contribution toward more sustainable stewardship of the ocean. Our "Fish for Life" initiative has been a powerful tool for self-improvement and for raising the scope, profile and pace of our responsible seafood agenda.
Our brand's aspiration for 100 percent MSC certification for wild-captured species by 2012 is an example of our commitment to best practices. This has come after many years of work within the supply chain, encouraging fisheries towards participation in the scheme and building a supply base, which could ultimately deliver this challenging objective.
Whilst focused very much on our own brand values and on delivering our sustainability objectives, we must also be mindful that the global world of seafood at large is indeed, very large and that we cannot fix all of the issues that the sector faces on our own. There is no doubt though that the combined influence of all the businesses that have recognized the value of our efforts and have subsequently aligned and joined with us in this movement has been fundamental in achieving a wide range of improvements in both fishery governance and practice.
Our "Fish for Life" philosophy has given focus and direction to an active agenda of engagement and thought leadership. It has become one of the foremost influences for positive change in the seafood sector. As a sector, we must continue to work together to find new ways to conserve ocean resources while building sustainable fisheries and seafood business throughout the supply chain.
Science and Passion Meet to Address Threats to the Oceans
Holly Bamford, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator, Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, NOAA, United States
Many people feel the environment and coastal economic
growth need to be at odds. However, I believe you can't have one without the
As an undergraduate, I was a business major with a minor
in environmental studies who fell in love with ocean and coastal science. My
biggest concern was how to conserve and sustain our coastal ecosystems and
still be able to grow and maintain our coastal communities and economies. This
led me into the science field where I earned a Ph.D in environmental chemistry
studying the impacts of organic contaminants derived from energy consumption on
the health of our coastal ecosystems. Armed with a duel background in business
management and the physical sciences, I joined the U.S National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration in 2002 as a science advisor to help bridge the gap
between conservation science and economic sustainability.
Today's threats to our coasts and oceans include the
increased populations along our coasts, coastal development, and near-shore and
off-shore energy exploration, production and consumption. All of these are
vital to our economic sustainability. However, to ensure our coastal lands
continue to support these demands, we need to ensure the health of our coastal
environment remain intact. As we have seen recently from the oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico, our coasts are vulnerable to these acute injuries. In my job, I
strive to provide the best science tools to coastal managers so they are fully
informed to make well-informed decisions that balance economic prosperity with
|Chef Olivier Roellinger Commits to Preserving Resources|
Olivier Roellinger, Chef & Vice President, Relais & Châteaux, France
A native of Brittany and now residing in Cancale, France, Olivier
Roellinger has always been different than other chefs. With a degree in
engineering, he began cooking at the age of 24. At the Maisons de
Bricourt, which opened in 1982, Olivier Roellinger landed his first
Michelin star in 1984, a second in 1988 and a third, the most coveted,
in 2006. In 2008, he decided to give up these three stars and ever
since, he has devoted himself to his seafood bistro "Le Coquillage,"
which is nestled in the Château Richeux above the
Mont-Saint-Michel Bay, and which received its first Michelin star this
Since November 2009, he is also vice president
of the Relais & Châteaux Association. Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive
collection of 481 of fine hotels and gourmet restaurants in more than 58
countries. Established in France in 1954, the Association's mission is to
spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding
properties with a truly unique character. The Relais & Châteaux signature
reflects this ambition: "All around the world, unique in the world."
Olivier Roellinger, Relais & Châteaux
The sea is the pantry of humanity. We forget
that it is fragile and not an inexhaustible resource.
On November 17, 2009, during our conference
organized in Biarritz, members of Relais & Châteaux approved six
commitments for the sustainable supply of marine products. We appealed to all of
our colleagues throughout the world to recognize the major role that we all can
play in the preservation of resources, as key advisors on the choice of species
that we buy, prepare and serve. Chefs are responsible, sensitive people who
must act as driving forces with the wider public.
Therefore, since January 1, 2010, we are
committed to removing bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus
) from menus of restaurants that are
members of Relais & Châteaux. This species is endangered; action must be
taken immediately. We must be the first to sound the alarm. Being aware of the
impending extinction of Atlantic bluefin tuna is very important, but we must
also be vigilant with regard to all endangered species.
We have the power to choose the products that
we order from suppliers and propose to our clients. If a species is endangered,
why not use another whose stock is not limited? All of the fish in the sea are
delicious! We need to diversify the species that we use. Wherever we are on the
planet, it is important that we know which species are endangered, the fishing
zones and techniques, as well as the size of species at sexual maturity. We
have a shared responsibility. Let us be responsible, united and committed.
Seafood Choices is an international program that provides leadership and creates opportunities for change across the seafood industry and ocean conservation community. We're about synergies and identifying creative solutions to long-held challenges. By building relationships and stimulating dialogue, Seafood Choices is encouraging and challenging all sectors of the seafood industry along the road toward sustainability.
SeaWeb, founded in 1996 to raise awareness of the growing threats to the ocean and its living resources, utilizes social marketing techniques to advance ocean conservation. By increasing public awareness, promoting science-based solutions and mobilizing decision-makers around ocean conservation, SeaWeb has brought together multiple, diverse and powerful voices for a healthy ocean. www.seaweb.org.