Amidst Environmental Rollbacks, This Company is Leading the Way

Our oceans are dying and we are running out of time to save them. We cannot afford to attack the science around climate change, which directly impacts our oceans and waterways.

Photo by Woei Ling Ng. Via Flickr

Elected officials who take this stance are endangering human health and the planet. We have a small window to make a difference, and the severity of the proposed cuts to the EPA means the onus is on companies, investors and consumers to step up.

Graphic Courtesy of New York Times

The public has shown that environmental protection is a priority. In the United States, thousands stood at Standing Rock and said no to the Dakota Pipeline and its potential threat on the region’s clean water and land. The vast majority of us do not want to see our planet’s health and dwindling natural resources compromised for companies to profit over people. Just last week, data released by the Yale Program on Climate Communication (the most comprehensive yet) indicated that 75% of Americans support limiting carbon emissions.

Consumers are empowered by purchase power to reflect their values. Per a new study by Nielsen, 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

Currently, the ocean serves as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on it as their primary source of protein. The global fishing fleet is 2.5 times larger than what the ocean can sustainably support — meaning that humans take far more fish than can be replaced naturally. Many scientists predict if we continue to fish at these rates, our oceans will be depleted by 2050. We cannot go on plundering our oceans the way we have. We need to alleviate the pressure; otherwise we risk collapse.

The demand for fish is continuing to increase. If it grows as predicted, a conservative forecast is that by 2050 we will need 230 Million metric tons of fish to feed the world. We actually cannot get more than 90 Million metric tons from the ocean, so the only way forward is with aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants like seaweed.

This is a good thing. Fish is a perfect protein, and farmed fish can be the most resource efficient animal protein available.

Photo Courtesy of Sogn Aqua

This is why aquaculture must be done the right way. I’m sure you’ve heard some aspects of its bad reputation — from excessive chemical and antibiotic use to disease and viruses transferring from farms to wild populations. It can cause pollution, like land-based farms that aren’t properly managed, as well as ecosystem destruction. And there’s also the dependency on unsustainable feed ingredients.

The good news is that decades of research and development have led to new technologies and knowledge that allow us to do better. We can now produce natural feed with a very low footprint that consists of naturally occurring microbes, insects, micro algae and seaweeds. It’s healthy for the fish, those consuming the fish, and the planet.

We also have the knowledge to farm far more species than was once possible — to breed them in captivity, and grow them in ways close to their natural conditions.

Further, there are some near-perfect farms like Sogn Aqua, a Norwegian Atlantic Halibut farm. Halibut is a red listed endangered species, and Sogn Aqua’s farm is a sustainability game-changer for many reasons: their on-land farm built with recyclable materials; their patented water pump system; and an antibiotic, chemical-free approach. Plus, their fish is delicious. Matorka is another breakthrough farming operation, producing Arctic Char in Iceland, using Iceland’s natural resources like geothermal energy and a natural water source that flows through volcanic rock, eliminating the need for chemicals and antibiotics.

Actor and Environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio Delivers Remarks at the 2016 Our Ocean Conference in Washington [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]. Via Flickr

Aquaculture is getting more and more sustainable, but we the consumers need to continue to send the message that we care where our fish come from and are concerned with how it is produced.

Photo Courtesy of LoveTheWild

When we put our money where our values are, we can change entire systems. And for the first time, there is now a company — called LoveTheWild — which provides sustainably farmed fish directly to consumers. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is a supporter. LoveTheWild makes it possible — and simple — for consumers to make the sustainable choice, from farm to freezer to plate. Further, it’s delicious.

We believe in our responsibility as consumers and business leaders to advance change. Our work is to sustainably farm fish, and help our ocean regenerate. As demand for sustainably farmed fish increases, retailers will have to respond. As Washington spins away from environmental efforts, it feels like our hands our tied, but they’re not. It’s an opportunity to step up and make new demands.