The Aquademia Podcast is hosted by Global Seafood Alliance’s Shaun O’Loughlin, Justin Grant and Maddie Cassidy. The podcast aims to educate consumers and industry professionals on how seafood is connected with the issues facing our planet, what consumers can do to help, and arm them with the knowledge to make better seafood choices.
In this episode, Derek speaks with the Aquademia hosts about sustainable seafood, particularly as it pertains to the restaurant industry two years into the COVID pandemic, as well as how Seattle Fish Company has adapted to meet the needs of our foodservice customers. As Derek mentions, “Even through COVID challenges, labor shortages, and inflation, we have not seen restauranteurs make concessions around quality or sustainability. They continue to hold true to their values and principles.”
January 18, 2022 – Sea Pact, a pre-competitive collaboration of ten leading American and Canadian seafood companies working together to drive industry sustainability progress, is pleased to announce that Sam Grimley will join the organization as Executive Director on February 1st, 2022. Grimley has served as a sustainability advisor to Sea Pact since its inception in 2013, and brings a wealth of experience in sustainability and engaging diverse networks of seafood supply chain stakeholders through pre-competitive collaboration efforts.
“Sea Pact’s member-companies are poised to grow our collaborative impact as we drive stewardship and continuous improvement of social, economic, and environmental responsibility in the seafood supply chain,” said Stephanie Pazzaglia, Sea Pact’s Member Board Chair. “We’re excited to have Sam join us as Sea Pact’s Executive Director and to lead us in this next stage of our collective evolution.”
Grimley’s hiring comes as Sea Pact prepares to finalize and implement a plan of strategic growth in grant programs, outreach and partnerships. “I’ve had the opportunity to serve as an advisor to Sea Pact’s members for eight years and I am truly honored to now join them in a leadership role to jointly advance our shared mission,” said Grimley.
Grimley has family roots in commercial fishing in Rhode Island and has been dedicated to driving sustainability efforts across the global seafood landscape for his entire career. As he joins Sea Pact, Grimley is transitioning from his current role as Deputy Division Director/Markets Program Director for North America at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). During his nine-year tenure at SFP, Sam oversaw implementation of SFP’s 5-year industry leadership strategy, which included strengthening industry engagement within SFP’s supply chain roundtables and other pre-competitive efforts.
Prior to joining SFP in 2013, Grimley worked in the Sustainable Seafood Program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute where he developed and managed GMRI’s Sustainable Seafood Culinary Partners program to promote local seafood through restaurants and food service efforts. Grimley has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from University of New Hampshire and a Master of Arts degree in Marine Affairs from University of Rhode Island.
About Sea Pact: Together, Sea Pact members collective buying power would make them the 4th largest seafood company in North America and the 15th largest seafood company in the world. The unified members of Sea Pact are: Euclid Fish Company, Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Inland Seafood, Ipswich Shellfish Group, J.J. McDonnell, North Atlantic Inc., Santa Monica Seafood, Seacore Seafood, Seattle Fish Company, and Stavis Seafoods. Sea Pact receives sustainability council from non-profit organizations FishWise, Ocean Outcomes, and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, and operational support from impact accelerator Multiplier. To learn more about Sea Pact visit www.seapact.org.
With the climate change crisis at the forefront of media coverage and federal legislative priorities, Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) recently sent a letter to President Biden requesting the Administration prioritize seafood production to help mitigate climate change. The letter was backed by findings from a commissioned report which aimed to explore how marine aquaculture fits into the larger conversation on climate change and was underwritten by Sea Pact, a sustainable seafood alliance co-founded by Seattle Fish Company.
“Through Sea Pact, Seattle Fish is pooling resources with other seafood distributors to have an impact on the things that will make a difference for all our futures,” said Hamish Walker, Seattle Fish Company’s Chief Sustainability and Development Officer. “There is no bigger issue facing us than climate change so we were really pleased to be able to help fund this research into the ways seafood, specifically aquaculture, can contribute to a lower carbon future. The evidence is clear that seafood production will need to play a core role in meeting our future nutritional needs, and the U.S. has an amazing opportunity to be a leader in this, if we choose.”
According to the United Nations, the world population is projected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050 compared to 7.7 billion in 2019. A report entitled “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” estimates that global demand for protein will also rise by an estimated 88 percent from 2020-2050. Combined, this creates an urgent need for scientists and political leaders to find more climate-friendly sources of protein to feed the growing population. There are many thoughts surrounding this issue, but those in the seafood community are urging the current administration to consider shifting toward seafood, particularly aquaculture, as one of the ways to solve this problem.
“If we are going to feed the growing world population, we must continue to advance the development of sustainable marine fish farming technologies,” said Dr. Kevan L. Main, Director of Mote Aquaculture Research Park. “Protein production from sustainable aquaculture systems is more efficient and less damaging to the environment than other animal protein production.”
What is Marine Aquaculture and Why Do We Need It?
Aquaculture is the controlled process of cultivating aquatic organisms, particularly for human consumption (think agriculture is to plants/livestock as aquaculture is to fish/seafood). The process is also referred to as fish farming (you’ve likely seen fish in your local supermarket labeled “farm-raised”).
According to Aquaculture Alliance, the primary responsibility of aquaculture is to efficiently complement sustainable, wild-caught fish options to increase the amount of seafood available worldwide. By 2030, they estimate that 62 percent of all seafood produced for human consumption will come from aquaculture, compared to 50 percent today.
How does Aquaculture Fit into the Climate Change Conversation?
The commissioned report by SATS, underwritten by Sea Pact, revealed several themes that demonstrate how aquaculture is healthy for our planet and its people and why it must be considered as a solution to mitigate climate change:
Well-managed marine aquaculture can produce protein from the ocean with low greenhouse gas emissions and no conversion of land.
Certain types of aquaculture, such as seaweed farming, also have the potential to sequester carbon and can be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fish farming can provide other ecosystem services such as improving water quality, regulating ocean acidification, protecting coastlines, and providing habitat for other species.
There is potential for expansion of marine aquaculture, particularly in the United States.
“As our federal leaders seek innovative solutions to address the climate crisis, aquaculture, one of the most resource-efficient methods for protein production, should be considered as a tool to help feed our growing population responsibly while protecting our planet,” said Margaret Henderson, Campaign Manager of SATS. “Through federal action, the Administration and Congress can establish a clear, regulatory pathway for permitting offshore aquaculture that would support a sustainable seafood future, increase the resiliency of our food systems and create new jobs in communities nationwide.”
Seattle Fish Company is pleased to announce CEO & President Derek Figueroa has been named a 2021 Titan 100. The Titan 100 program recognizes Colorado’s Top 100 CEO’s & C-level executives.
Those named are the area’s most accomplished business leaders in their industry using criteria that includes demonstrating exceptional leadership, vision and passion. Collectively the 2021 Titan 100 and their companies employ more than 127,000 individuals and generate over $15.9 billion dollars in annual revenues.
“We proudly recognize the Titan 100 for their achievements and contributions to Colorado’s business community and beyond. This past year, these executives were forced to navigate the daunting effects of a worldwide pandemic and their leadership was tested. The Titan100 have proven their ability to adapt, innovate and grow. We congratulate this year’s list of prestigious honorees.” says Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO.
As CEO & President of Seattle Fish, Figueroa is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the company. He is known as a driven, innovative, strategic, results and relationship-focused leader with 30+ years of experience in sales, marketing, finance, and operations. He has been recognized as a thought leader for building Seattle Fish Company into one of the premier seafood distributors in the US and for his leadership in sustainable practices and initiatives, including as co-founder of the nonprofit Sea Pact and 2021 Chair of the National Fisheries Institute.
Figueroa is a tireless advocate for the seafood and hospitality industry, both locally and nationally. Other board service includes the Colorado Restaurant Association, Project Angel Heart, Colorado Restaurant Foundation, American Culinary Foundation, and the Seafood Industry Research Fund. Figueroa is at his best when he is working in collaboration to influence positive change.
“Thank you Jamie and Titan CEO for the recognition,” said Figueroa. “In this business, there are no individual awards. I’m proud of the heart and effort put forth by our dedicated and talented Seattle Fish family to partner with our customers and community in order to provide essential and healthy nutrition.”
“One of the most important ways that our customers and community engage with our brand is through our sustainability efforts,” said Will Martin, SFC’s King Soopers/City Market Account Sales Manager, who has been with the company for 21 years. “Derek has always been a huge part of championing our sustainability efforts at Seattle Fish. His forward thinking and leadership has guided our mission to educate our customers in sustainability so they know where and how their food is sourced and can share that information directly with consumers.”
Figueroa and the other Titan 100s were honored at an awards ceremony on July 22, 2021, held at “The Vehicle Vault” in Parker, Colorado. This event gathered 100 Titans of Industry for an event unlike any that exists in the Colorado business community.
When Kelly Haugen and Erica Tardiff first met James Iacino, Executive Chairman of Seattle Fish Company, they were CSU students with a vision to create a positive global impact on biodiversity and aquaculture. Two years later, with the help of a grant from SFC, they’ve developed that vision into a company, Nobilis Aqua, and recently launched their first product, The Nobilis Aqua Growout (Trout) Feed.
The Nobilis Aqua Growout Feed is formulated on a foundation of responsibly-sourced invasive Asian Carp meal. After many rounds of research and development, they’ve simplified the feed down to only a handful of ingredients in order to maximize fishmeal protein efficiency, making it perfect to maximize weight gain of trout while not compromising nutritional health.
“There are some amazing sustainable solutions being developed throughout the aquaculture feed industry right now,” said Haugen. “With feeds trending towards plant-based and insect-based products, we felt there was still a strong opportunity to innovate around new fishmeal protein alternatives not regularly seen in the market.”
According to the USDA, aquaculture is defined as “the production of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions throughout part or all of their lifecycle”. You’ve likely seen fish labeled “farm-raised” at your local grocery store or seafood market, meaning that fish is a product of aquaculture. NOAA’s FishWatch states that approximately half of the seafood eaten in the world is farm-raised.
Though aquaculture and farm-raised seafood have occasionally garnered a negative reputation due to the resources needed to raise farmed fish, companies like Nobilis Aqua are passionately working to make a positive impact on the industry. This is the main reason that Nobilis’ Growout Feed is made using Asian Carp, which is an invasive species of fish causing issues in Kentucky Lake, amongst other areas in the United States.
“In my graduate studies, I wanted to marry my knowledge of aquatic biology to business practices and needs in the aquaculture industry,” says Tardiff. “Nobilis Aqua focuses on creating an aquafeed that is sustainable and found that replacing the traditionally-used wild caught ocean fish with invasive Asian Carp made a whole lot of sense both nutritionally and environmentally.”
A compelling case can be made for growing more seafood in the United States, according to FishWatch. Demands for healthy seafood products are increasing every year as stocks of wild-caught seafood are dwindling. The United States imports 90 percent of its seafood, half of which is from aquaculture, contributing to the trade deficit. Yet only 5 percent of our seafood supply is from freshwater and marine aquaculture within the US, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Frontier Trout Ranch is part of the 5% hoping to create growth within the domestic aquaculture industry. The Krantz family-run ranch has raised premium Colorado trout on 163 acres in the San Luis Valley since 2013. The ranch, managed by Kermit Krantz, “blends tried and true aquaculture techniques with the sustainability of a single-source, closed water system in order to grow superior, fresh, natural fish”.
When Haugen and Tardiff were searching for a company that would allow them to test their trout feed – in the midst of a global pandemic – they reached out to Krantz, who is considered a pioneer in modern, clean, sustainable fish farming techniques. Interested in Nobilis’ product, but also feeling the impact of restaurant closures during the pandemic, Krantz saw an opportunity to partner with Seattle Fish both for greater access to retail and wholesale and to financially contribute to Nobilis’ growing company.
Even under the pressure of the pandemic, Krantz did not want to compromise Frontier’s commitment to sustainability and innovation. Knowing that Seattle Fish has similar values, Krantz pitched Derek Figueroa, CEO & President of Seattle Fish Co., the idea of using this feed on his farm, its benefits in sustainability, and how SFC could assist by issuing a small grant to Nobilis and pre-purchasing feed.
“This is such a unique opportunity and allows Seattle Fish to deliver on our Leadership Aspiration to Lead the Growth of Sustainable Seafood Consumption,” says Derek Figueroa. “Marrying an innovative feed startup, a western slope fish farmer, Seattle Fish and our customers into one common goal and objective is something we take enormous pride in. Ultimately, our investment was a no-brainer. Partnerships like these are how we will continue to create innovation in the industry.”
Though it was a risk to use Nobilis’ feed on Frontier’s all-natural trout farm, especially in a time where farmers, distributors and restaurants across the world suffered due to the consequences of the pandemic, the risk has so far produced great results.
“Most feeds you come across have 50+ ingredients,” said Krantz on a recent visit to Seattle Fish to deliver trout, “but Nobilis’ product only has a handful. That was one of the first things that intrigued me about their feed, in addition to the use of invasive Asian Carp. Another was that the feed floats, but honestly, even if it did sink, I don’t think the trout would let it… They eat it so quickly!”
“The trout are growing like crazy, too,” Krantz continued. “Though this feed may be a tad bit pricier, it’s paying for itself tenfold when you take into consideration how quickly the trout are growing. They can be harvested faster, which cuts down on the amount of feed we need to use over time. I hope we can get more fish farmers to start using this product!”