Carolyn McMaster | February 25, 2016
The annual State of Green Business report typically gets a lot of attention for its comparative metrics on corporate sustainability performance. But for me, the highlight this year is the inclusion of oceans and sustainable seafood (the “blue economy”) among the top trends for 2016. (Others include the regenerative agriculture, the circular economy, sustainability as a talent magnet, microgrids, supply chains, carbon recycling and the ubiquitous “sharing” economy [please, let’s stop using that inaccurate term].)
Paying attention to the state of our oceans is long overdue. I say that partly because we’ve been working with great organizations that are helping to improve the health and economics of seafood and fisheries worldwide, but mostly because oceans and seafood are the next big sustainability story. As we’ve learned over the past year or so, seafood has the potential to be a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population, and well-managed fisheries could improve the lives of millions of people in coastal communities.
The Fish 2.0 business competition shines a spotlight on companies with new technologies and business models that as addressing sustainability and scale challenges in aquaculture, aquaponics, supply chains, wild-catch fisheries and consumer product goods. SeaWeb, the nonprofit that produces the annual Seafood Summit and Seafood Champion Awards, works at the intersection of global business and seafood sustainability. And 50in10, also a nonprofit, has been a catalyst and convener for small-scale fisheries projects, developing prototypes that fisheries around the world can replicate to quickly see improvements in their economic and environmental health.
It’s an exciting arena, with the potential for dramatic advances in a relatively short time. And, as Elsa Wenzel points out in the GreenBiz report, seafood is just one part of the blue economy. Shipping, pollution (carbon, plastics, chemicals), energy, and mineral extraction are also areas presenting great challenges and opportunity. There’s a lot of work to be done. But the level of enthusiasm and invention flooding this sector is reason for real optimism.