SeaBOS is unique because it is the first time ten of the world’s largest seafood companies collaborate with science to implement a joint vision to develop more sustainable seafood production and improved ocean health. The initiative is also unique because it connects wild capture fisheries, feed producers and aquaculture businesses across Asia, Europe, and North America.
The collaboration has been coordinated by the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University with key scientific partners from the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, the University of Lancaster, and the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. The scientific work is independently funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Moore Foundation, and the Packard Foundation.
Together, SeaBOS companies represent over 10% of the world’s seafood production and comprise over 600 subsidiary companies. SeaBOS members include ten of the largest seafood companies in the world: Maruha Nichiro Corporation, Nissui, Thai Union, Mowi, Dongwon Industries, Cermaq, Cargill Aqua Nutrition, Nutreco/Skretting, CP Foods, and Kyokuyo.
The starting point for SeaBOS dates back to 2012 when researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) at Stockholm University, the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics and the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere program (GEDB) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, began research on the largest actors in the seafood industry. Decades ago, scientists had discovered “keystone species” in the ocean – species with a disproportionate effect on the structure and function of marine ecosystems. The first question the SRC-led research team asked was: are there also “keystone actors” within the seafood industry?
The answer came in a scientific paper published in 2015 demonstrating that just 13 companies controlled 19-40% of some of the largest and most valuable stocks, and 11-16 % of the global marine catch. These keystone actors were defined as large corporations that (1) dominate global production revenues and volumes within a particular sector; (2) control globally relevant segments of production; (3) connect ecosystems globally through subsidiaries; and (4) influence global governance processes and institutions.
The research team’s next question was whether these keystone actors could be mobilised to lead a global transformation for ocean stewardship. After two years of bilateral contacts between scientists and company representatives, eight of the world’s largest seafood companies agreed to an initial meeting in November 2016 to explore transformative risks and opportunities for the global seafood industry. This was the very first keystone dialogue and it resulted in CEOs of these leading companies publicly committing to a vision and set of shared commitments to ocean stewardship. This laid the foundation for a new global science-business initiative: Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS).
Since then, two more companies have joined the Initiative along with annual CEO-level talks between the companies and the scientists.
In October 2020, a set of time-bound goals for the initiative were agreed by all CEOs, with reporting on the first round of goals expected in October 2021.
Eliminate IUU fishing and forced, bonded and child labour in our operations– and implement measures to address those issues in their supply chains – with public reporting on progress in 2022 and 2025.
Extend the collaboration with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to solve the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear; and combine to clean up plastics pollution from our coasts and waterways.
Agree on a strategy for reducing impacts on endangered species and the use of antibiotics.
Set CO2 emissions reduction goals and reporting approaches from each company.
The initiative has a dedicated secretariat led by a Managing Director, and fully funded by contributions by the member companies themselves. To ensure scientific integrity, from the earliest stages of the initiative, none of the scientists have received any financial support from the member companies or the Secretariat.