Changing the Future of Wild Fish, Phase I

An entrepreneurial approach to sustainable solutions

The problem of unsustainable fishing is one often defined by a negative casting, and the discouraged sense that “things are only getting worse.” 

Our research of the seafood supply chain uncovered reason for tenacious hope. Commissioned by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in 2008, this report was the first of three phases of research that culminated in the founding of Future of Fish as a non-profit organization dedicated to leveraging the power of innovators to shift the landscape of the seafood industry. It represents a journey of discovering bold opportunities for change and for inventing compelling, powerful solutions. Ultimately, these pages should be seen as an invitation: to re-envision what is possible, through the eyes of entrepreneurs.

“There’s still a whole world of awe-inspiring, unique marine beauty to engage with. We must create a relationship to what is around us, not what’s been lost. That’s how to inspire change.”

—Barton Seaver, Chef, Author and Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard's School of Public Health

Our process involved surveying entrepreneurial efforts addressing unsustainable fishing and distilling from those a set of frameworks for understanding why those solutions succeed. We reviewed more than 120 solutions from entrepreneurs and non-profits addressing the problem of unsustainable fishing, and then segmented the solutions based on which part of the supply chain they targeted: consumers, seafood buyers, and fisheries. We made specific observations about what was working and what was missing, which led to ideation and, ultimately, to eight entrepreneurial opportunities.

Opportunity 1

Broaden the consumer target. Reach a new, broader audience with the message of sustainability in both developed and developing worlds.

Opportunity 2

Shift branding/messaging away from “sustainability.” Reach consumers with a sophisticated (yet clear) marketing message about sustainability without using the term “sustainability.”

Opportunity 3

Deal with usable bycatch. Invent a system for preventing the waste of tons of bycatch without creating a black market.

Opportunity 4

Target the investor community. Create structures that allow capital pools to participate directly in fisheries-related solutions.

Opportunity 5

Focus on the processing. Develop processing solutions that drive sustainability.

Opportunity 6

Align sustainability strategies with business opportunities. Develop attractive business solutions that can allow sustainable behaviors to piggyback.

Opportunity 7

Shift the mindset of the players. Create more hybrid thinkers in the sustainable fishing sector.

Opportunity 8

Develop systems that drive fisheries, suppliers, and retailers to engage in constant improvement of their practices. Create embedded technology and incremental ratings that allow for real-time, flexible interactions along the supply chain.