Seafood is a critical source of protein for people around the world—each meal is an opportunity to connect our own wellbeing to that of the oceans. Today, many global fisheries and aquaculture industries remain poorly managed, don’t apply better practices to maximize production while minimizing environmental impacts, or lack the solutions necessary to address critical environmental impacts
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions Program works to reverse this situation and address these problems by providing readily-implementable solutions based on best available science to the public, companies that buy and sell seafood, and the organizations we collaborate with.
Seafood is a high-impact, high-visibility industry. At the core of the complex field of seafood sustainability is a simple problem: poor resource management damages fish stocks, ecosystems, and global ocean health. Our team works to reverse this damage and address these problems at the source. Our research shows that better wild fisheries and aquaculture practices lead to healthier fish stocks and ecosystems, which lead to healthier, more resilient oceans. By working with strategically-positioned companies that buy and sell seafood, we’ve formed a network dedicated to making advancements in seafood sustainability.
Science is at the core of everything we do. With a strong foundation of research in wild fisheries and aquaculture practices, our team of scientists advance readily-implementable solutions to the companies we partner with, the public, and the organizations we collaborate with-all of whom share our vision of a sustainable industry. We’re experts in the local New England fisheries in our backyard, but our researchers have also completed fisheries assessments in more than 100 countries and the dedicated companies we partner with source seafood from every corner of the ocean. Wild-caught and farmed seafood is a global challenge and we’re focused on finding the global solutions to achieve it.
In the last few years, the seafood industry has seen a large shift. More than half of the world’s fish for consumption now comes from aquaculture rather than wild capture fisheries.
Global wild fishery production has essentially been maxed out but global food consumption and the human population is on the rise, the increasing demand for seafood will not be met with wild fish. Instead, aquaculture has and will continue to increase production across the globe. Achieving this increase while also protecting our oceans can only happen with responsibly-implemented aquaculture solutions. We believe that helping this growing industry develop the best available technologies and practices is a highly effective way to protect ocean health.
As a founding member of organizations like the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life has extensive sustainable aquaculture expertise and will continue to foster partnerships and pioneer sustainable solutions to help create healthy global oceans.
Maximizing the positive impacts of seafood certifications
Seafood certifications are a popular and important way for consumers to make purchasing decisions based on sustainability and for wild fisheries and aquaculture operations to demonstrate lower environmental impact. This is why the Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions Program works with leading seafood certification programs to strengthen their standards and maximize their positive impact to wild fisheries and aquaculture sustainability but also to consumers and companies that rely on certification to inform their purchasing decisions. As a founding member of the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (an organization that benchmarks seafood certifications against stakeholder agreed standards), we continue to work in this area of seafood sustainability.
Partnering with responsible companies to improve the environmental performance of the seafood they buy and sell using market-based initiatives.
We pioneered the approach of partnering with major buyers of seafood to advance sustainable practices in wild fisheries and aquaculture back in 2001 and now corporate commitments to sustainable seafood have now become a requirement for many major retailers in the US. We continue to cultivate new and deeper tailored partnerships with companies, including from new sectors such as the hotel industry and from the middle of the seafood supply chain, that help them set and achieve sustainability goals around seafood by focusing on their unique supply chain and culture while also advancing the mission of the Anderson Cabot Center. The real strength of our program is that we offer in-house scientific expertise on seafood sustainability, fisheries and aquaculture practices, and corporate engagement on these issues. By improving the environmental performance of a company’s seafood portfolio, we help create cascading benefits that impact the entire seafood system and improve ocean health.
Advancing responsible domestic aquaculture
We are strong and vocal supporter of responsibly produced domestic aquaculture and are actively working to increase production while advancing solutions to the critical sustainability challenges that impede the growth of the industry. In particular, we are using our global position of scientific leadership on protected species bycatch–including over three decades of studying the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)–and cross-cutting expertise in sustainable aquaculture practices, aerial surveillance, and geographic information systems (GIS) in order to collaborate with industry to address the risk of interactions between protected species and vertical/horizontal lines (used for mooring and other structures) in aquaculture gear, both in Federal and State waters.
Improving and increasing the adoption of traceability systems in the seafood supply chain
Tracing the journey of a piece of fish from the boat or farm all the way to your plate is both complex and incredibly important. Protecting food safety, combatting seafood fraud, ensuring that you’re eating what you think you’re eating (and paying for what you should be paying for) – all of these and more are benefits of a full traceability system that stays with a piece of fish at every step in the supply chain. The Fisheries & Aquaculture Solutions Program partners with companies that buy and sell seafood to strengthen their traceability efforts and with other partners to help design leading seafood traceability initiatives to have the greatest positive impact.
Selective breeding in aquaculture
Only 10% of global aquaculture uses selectively bred stocks but these examples provide demonstrable improvements in traits including disease resistance, growth rates, and production. With sustainability as our goal; which traits should we select for? How do we address the trade-offs, such the impact of escapes, and protect the wild genetic resource? Can we benefit both business and the environment? Where are key species now? This work focuses on answering these questions and accelerating selective breeding approaches today to move towards more a more environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry tomorrow.