Sustainable Seafood Initiative
Food Systems & The Sea
Fish provide a source of essential nutrients and contribute to healthy diets across the world. The inevitable rise in the world’s population will bring severe demands on the supply of fish, and we must be prepared to secure sustainable capture fisheries and aquaculture production to meet this demand.
The CMBC’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SSI) focuses on the intersection of sustainable fisheries management with seafood supply systems to address a grand challenge:
How can we provide sufficient seafood to feed the crucial protein and micronutrient needs of a growing population, while safeguarding the oceans so that they can provide food and nutrition security today and in the future?
To advance ocean stewardship by effectively communicating on the sustainable seafood landscape so that multiple stakeholders and audiences can come together to learn, exchange ideas, innovate, and re-envision the seafood system, linking what we know about fish to what we know about food.
Broadly speaking, SSI work connects key disciplines of sustainable development (such as environmental, economic, and social/cultural) across small-scale, middle-ground, and large-scale fisheries, and bridges the CMBC’s expertise in fisheries biology, ecology, economics, and policy with involvement and impact in food systems. Specifically, we focus on three general themes:
- Climate and fisheries
- Food and nutrition
- Cultural and historical approaches to seafood and sustainability
CMBC's SSI aims to serve as a catalyst for broad engagement and corporate responsibility towards sustainable and equitable seafood systems by focusing on three objectives:
Leveraging our expertise on fisheries, oceanography, climate, socio-economics, culture, and policy, to build complementary scientific competence in fisheries, food systems and seafood markets, expand our education and training opportunities and offerings, and invest in research collaborations across the sustainable seafood space.
Engagement & Communication
Facilitating engagement on sustainable fisheries, seafood supply chains, seafood sustainability, and culinary innovation by offering programming and events to foster exchange, create access, and build trust among stakeholders and address the communication gap between academics, industry, the culinary community, and seafood consumers.
Strengthening access to information needed to improve sustainability in fisheries and seafood supply chains by offering a portfolio of educational and capacity-development materials for multiple audiences interested in engaging in the sustainable seafood space, (including workshops, classes, academic courses, ocean to table events, etc.).
Seafood markets: Corporate sustainability & procurement
Seafood markets lie at the intersection of fisheries management, marine conservation, and human consumption patterns. Yet, purveyors of seafood are often not at the table in management and policies related to fisheries, with a loss of knowledge and tools.
Since 2019 and with support from Price Philanthropies, CMBC partnered up with membership warehouse club membership warehouse club operator PriceSmart, Inc. to explore dimensions of sustainable seafood procurement and social impact of seafood purchases in Central America and the Caribbean. The goals are (a) to provide the purchasing teams with the information needed to inform the design of new corporate policies, (b) provide a model for corporate responsibility that can be scaled to other seafood buyers.
As part of this work, the SSI has:
- Provided technical input to PriceSmart on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
- Carried out a pilot study to compile a baseline of information understanding the company’s seafood sourcing, including a detailed analysis of the full assortment of aquatic food products being sold in PriceSmart’s Costa Rican club stores.
- Developed a series of capacity development workshops (in-person and virtual) to expand PriceSmart’s expertise on current scientific information related to fisheries and aquaculture sustainability, tools, and guidelines for evaluating sustainability of aquatic food products to sell.
Small-scale fisheries & their role in sustainable seafood
With 2022 being declared the Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the launching of the new “Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The Contributions of Small-scale Fisheries to Sustainable Development” report in March 2023, the Sustainable Seafood Initiative seeks to harness the CMBC’s expertise to refine its working portfolio exploring the role of small-scale fisheries to providing food and nutrition security. Also as part of the collaboration with PriceSmart on Corporate Responsibility & Seafood Purchasing Decisions, the initiative aims to support retail industry partners towards the integration of local supply chains, particularly sourced from small-scale producers in the countries of operation.