SeaWeb announced the winners of the 2018 Seafood Champion Awards, outstanding seafood sustainability leaders who exemplify the creativity and commitment of seafood leaders around the world.
From an activist who rescued more than 3,000 trafficked fishers in Southeast Asia to the innovators of a solar-powered vessel tracking system for artisanal fishers, a company pioneering open ocean alternatives to near-shore aquaculture, and a widely-admired 30-year sustainable seafood veteran, the 2018 Seafood Champions reflect a seafood marketplace striving for even greater environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Since 2006, the annual Seafood Champion Awards have recognized individuals and organizations for excellence in promoting environmentally responsible seafood. This year's four winners—one in each of four Award categories—were announced on June 19 in front of a global audience at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Barcelona, Spain in a ceremony that also honored the finalists.
Winners were selected from among nearly 100 nominations by a panel of seafood sustainability experts from industry and nonprofit organizations based in Asia, Europe and North America.
The Seafood Champion Award for Leadership went to Guy Dean, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of Albion Farms and Fisheries. Guy has been involved in the seafood industry for almost 30 years in roles ranging from farmer, harvester, and fisher to processor and distributor. Passionate about promoting the long-term viability of the seafood industry, Guy represents the seafood industry on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Multi-stakeholder Committee and co-founded Sea Pact, a group seafood companies committed to improving the social, economic, and environmental performance of the global seafood supply chain.
"Guy not only understands what needs to happen, he is able to get his company to back his ideas, and that is truly inspiring," said Awards Judge Richard Boot, President of FishChoice. "Guy has gone over and above his job to be a champion and leader in sustainable seafood. He is a driving force behind issues such as plastics and transparency, and is a thought leader in the space."
Pelagic Data Systems (PDS) won the Seafood Champion Award for Innovation for the creation of a groundbreaking vessel tracking system that is completely solar-powered, affordable, and suitable for boats of all sizes. Their Ultra-Light System is a solar powered, autonomous data collection device, approximately smartphone sized, that records vessel location and transmits over a secured cellular network. Since 2014, PDS has launched programs in over 15 different countries.
Awards Judge Jennifer Kemmerly of Monterey Bay Aquarium called the innovative traceability system "an incredible necessity that benefits the full spectrum of stakeholders from the fishers to the importers to the buyers...Without traceability solutions for the artisanal sector, we lose the ability to harness market forces to incentivize change and reward better performers."
In the Seafood Champion Awards Vision Category, Open Blue won for its decade-long effort to revolutionize the mariculture industry by moving it into the open ocean, far away from sensitive near shore ecosystems. Open Blue’s native Cobia fish are cultivated twelve kilometers off the coast of Panama in proprietary SeaStations fully submerged at depths of up to 100 feet. Vertically integrated from egg to plate, Open Blue Cobia became the world’s first ASC certified Cobia operation in January 2018.
"Progressive, forward facing and daring," is how New Zealand fisherman and Awards Judge Karl Warr described Open Blue. "Open Blue has had the vision to grow fish from the outset in a way that addresses all of the environmental considerations. They have not grown as quickly as they might have if they disregarded these issues, but they had the vision to do it for the sake of open ocean aquaculture."
Patima Tungpuchayakul, founder of the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation, was chosen as the winner of the Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy. Patima has emerged as a key actor in the effort to end slavery at sea in Southeast Asia. In more than two decades as an activist, Patima has helped to create awareness of chronic human rights violations and improve the lives of migrant workers and the laws governing their employment. Between August 2014 and October 2016, Patima rescued 3,000 trafficked workers stranded on remote islands in Indonesian waters by the Thai fishing industry.
"Patima's work is not always visible to the industry, but she has done an amazing job at uncovering labor atrocities, and freeing workers that have been enslaved," noted Awards Judge Dick Jones, CEO of Ocean Outcomes. "She does this work with no concern for her own safety, often putting herself in harm's way. She is a true advocate for positive change."
For more information on the awards, go to www.seafoodchampions.org.