SeaBOS is a unique science/business collaboration with a joint vision based on ten commitments to lead a global transformation towards sustainable seafood production and a healthy ocean.
We gather anually to discuss the multitude of challenges around oceanic stewardship. Six task forces have been created to tackle these challenges on a day-to-day basis. This is a summary of our report on SeaBOS progress so far.
When I was first approached by scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2015, to engage in a global dialogue with keystone actors in the seafood industry, I thought: “Interesting idea, but is change really possible? We can’t afford not to try – this might be our only chance.”
As a global advocate for the SDGs, I wanted to do more than to speak at meetings, and to serve as an ambassador for sustainability. I wanted to help drive change to the best of my abilities.
I also wanted to learn more. What were the ocean challenges, what were the opportunities, who were the actors, what were they doing, and how could they be stimulated to change? Was sustainability a fringe topic, and how could it become the core principle upon which all their operations were based?
During the last few years, I have learnt a lot: about the scale of the challenges, about the willingness of industry to lead by example, about the challenges faced by scientists seeking positive engagement with corporations, and the new opportunities that present themselves to companies and scientists that are able to embark on an uncomfortable journey together.
I have come to realize that we all want the same thing, regardless of our background and affiliations: A healthy ocean for everyone. This is good for business, good for the planet, and good for people.
This report is an opportunity for you to learn more. About SeaBOS, the vision that has brought this group together, the commitments that drive it forward, and about what the companies, and scientists, have achieved to date.
For some of you, this may be the first time you are learning about them, but I can tell you this: they have worked hard since I first met them.
The companies in SeaBOS need to do more. Much more. We all need to do more.
But they have started.
Although this is only a start, I feel proud to have been working with this group. I am happy to see that their hard work is starting to generate results – and that it is also starting to inspire others.
SeaBOS’ ambition is not just to put its members on a firm path of sustainability and stewardship, but to set an example for the entire industry as well as for other industries active in the ocean space. Living up to that ambition means delivering on commitments, avoiding complacency, and continuously challenging conventional wisdom of what is possible.
More is possible. And the ocean requires it from all of us.
Tackling the most significant challenges in the seafood sector is not for the faint hearted.
Doing so globally, within a collaborative framework linking science with ten of the largest seafood businesses is energising, exhilarating, frightening, and frustrating, all at the same time. It was clear in 2016, when this science and industry dialogue first began, that the problems in the seafood sector, for our ocean, and for our planet, were urgent. It is even more clear in 2022 that those problems still exist, and their immediate resolution is critical to the health of our ocean, the productivity and production of seafood, and the health and wellbeing of our human population.
The SeaBOS model is unique, and combines trans-disciplinary scientific expertise, with trans-national industry expertise. Spanning cultural and geographical boundaries, the aim of SeaBOS is to develop science-based solutions to address these challenges and provide leadership, guidance, stewardship, and examples for others to use. The original eight company signatories of SeaBOS rapidly expanded to become ten members, and we hope to continue growing and extending our learnings as others join, replicate, or improve on our efforts.
In the five years since we launched at the UN Ocean Conference, much has been achieved, particularly in creating the foundations for future. We have developed trust and constructive dialogue between and across science and industry, at new levels.
We have created strong and growing collaborations. We have identified key areas of focus, and mechanisms to work together to create innovative solutions, based on science.
And we have developed frameworks and processes which can be used, and are being used, to address the key challenges.
This report is the start of our accountability to each other, to ensure we deliver on our promises. More – this report is an update on a journey we all share. It is a journey of hope towards transformation to a sustainable global seafood sector, and towards a healthy ocean. Transformation, and journeys, are rarely linear. Some things we tried didn’t work. Others are still ‘work in progress’. And we have had a few successes.
The reality is clear – we still have a long way to go. But we’re aligned in our journey. We’re agreed on our vision. And, at times, we recognise we are at different stages of that journey even amongst SeaBOS members. But we’re making progress. And we’re reporting publicly to help others understand the situation we see now; the vision of where we are headed; and to show how we plan to get there.
It is a privilege to be part of SeaBOS, and to be part of the seafood sector more broadly. Together with science, government, and civil society, we can turn our vision into reality. That’s worth reporting on.
Martin Exel, Managing Director, SeaBOS