Jerry is founder and president of both North Atlantic, Inc. and P.T. Bali Seafood International. He directs overseas operations, manages Asian production, and leads the Lesser Sunda Sustainable Fisheries Initiative. North Atlantic, Inc., based on the Commercial Fish Pier in Portland, Maine, is a primary processor, importer, and distributor of both fresh and frozen seafood. They specialize in providing sustainable products for chain supermarkets and restaurants, and wholesale distributors.
How are you driving sustainability and improving fishers’ livelihoods?
North Atlantic, Inc, owns and operates its own processing plant in Benoa, Indonesia. There, we are helping rationalize the supply chain throughout the Indonesian archipelago. We also works directly with fisheries in Indonesia and have developed an integrated plan that simultaneously improves livelihoods for local fishers, makes stock assessments of undocumented fisheries possible, creates local mini-processing plants that drive economic growth in the community, and establishes a reliable supply of sustainable fish to our customers in North America.
How are you stabilizing the supply chain?
The current lack of transparency and pricing information leads to instability and risk for businesses, and perpetuates an environment of fraud and misinformation in which it’s impossible to identify reliably where most fish comes from, let alone whether it meets sustainable criteria. We are changing that. Working with retailers and local fishers on the East Coast, we are introducing the concept of “cost-plus,” in which all players in the supply chain disclose their costs and profit margins with one another. Why is this necessary? Fish is the last mystery protein in the supermarket. While the margins and value chains for beef, chicken, pork and other commodity proteins are widely known, the seafood industry remains opaque. In part, this is due to the fact that the average fish is touched by 36 entities—from fishermen, to landing docks, to processors, brokers, distributors, and final sellers—before it winds up on your plate. Our introduction of advance pricing for fish leads to higher quality product, less waste, and better practices on the water.
What is the potential for impact in this model?
The possibility of creating new standards of information and, thus, eliminating the default of “mystery fish,” will allow a new marketplace to grow in which fish provenance is tracked and discussed by buyers, and consumers can make informed choices based on fish with complete and accurate information. Fish information is now a luxury; we can help make it a default standard.