No more silver bullets

Future of Fish was founded on the belief that entrepreneurship can save the oceans.

No, we don’t mean industry, or business-as-usual. We mean creativity and innovation, leashed on behalf of reducing overfishing or protecting marine habitats. Companies that give consumers a way to turn vague, good feelings of wanting the ocean to thrive into concrete decisions about where to spend money.

We work with businesses that seek to not just be profitable, but to protect and improve the 71 percent of the planet that is covered in water. We help those entrepreneurs launch and scale their ideas to be more than just a drop of change in the big, blue ocean. We do that through providing assistance in strategic planning, team recruitment, and access to capital.

We provide these services at discounted rates because we are backed by philanthropists who believe that incubating ocean-changing businesses is an effective way to engage market forces (including you, the consumer) to save the ocean.

What does that look like? Well, some of our work is behind-the-scenes, making more transparent supply chains that give you a way to choose fish that is harvested responsibly over fish that isn’t. In other cases, we work with folks who have ideas for how fishers can work together or how unfamiliar, but responsibly caught fish can be deliciously prepared.

You can help. Mostly, by asking your fish monger, the waiter, the counter at the grocery store where your fish came from. More than 40 percent of some popular fish species are consistently mislabeled; It either isn’t the kind of fish you think it is, or didn’t come from where the label says. But the reason to insist on traceable fish is not just to avoid getting cheated by substitutions.

Ask because it will help these mission-driven entrepreneurs compete in a more fair landscape. Seafood is a $400 billion global industry. An additional $10-$24 billion of fish is caught each year illegally. That means fish caught above and beyond the quotas set by regional governing bodies and informed by scientific data. That means fish stolen from small-scale fishers who rely on that catch for their livelihood. It means patronizing thieves that we don’t yet have good ways to catch. So don’t buy mystery fish.

And if you’re an investor, or someone who wants to put business skills to work on behalf of the ocean, or just someone who thinks what we do is worth funding, contact us. The ocean could use the help.

Cheryl Dahle is founder and executive director of Future of Fish

 

Published February 14, 2012