Sea Change – Supply challenges and climate changes are forcing the U.S. seafood industry to adapt

March 2015, By Sherry Daye Scott, QSR Magazine

California-based fast casual Slapfish, which serves a range of premium seafood items—including a Bowl of Shrimp either chilled or fried—partners with Aquarium of the Pacific to develop and maintain a sustainable sourcing plan.

California-based fast casual Slapfish, which serves a range of premium seafood items—including a Bowl of Shrimp either chilled or fried—partners with Aquarium of the Pacific to develop and maintain a sustainable sourcing plan.

Though U.S. consumption is well below other proteins today, seafood will likely be an increasingly important part of the American diet in the years to come. The country’s population is predicted to grow by 89 million between 2010 and 2050 to 401 million people. More people require more food—and land limitations mean the beef, pork, and poultry industries can only produce so much volume.

Increased domestic consumption will have a direct impact on restaurant operators who serve finfish and shellfish. On one hand, more Americans eating seafood means the potential for increased sales. On the other, it also means the potential for higher wholesale prices. And while space limitations largely don’t affect the seafood industry, it has its own challenges to contend with, especially in the U.S.

For starters, more than 90 percent of the seafood the U.S. consumes is imported from countries with their own growing demand for protein. China, the global seafood producer and processor leader, is experiencing a rise in its middle class. China used to be a net exporter of seafood, but now it’s a net importer. The same is true of other seafood-producing countries in Asia and South America.

“If I am a buyer of seafood,” says Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA), “global demand is going to make it harder for me to source.”

In addition, climate changes are forcing suppliers to reevaluate their sourcing practices and invest in new practices, like aquaculture. These challenges have all levels of seafood stakeholders looking at new ways to approach the present—and future—state of the seafood industry.

Read more here

Be part of the OA solution

It’s too bad that I learned so late about the Oct. 24 deadline to post comments on the U.S. State Department’s website as it drafts the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report, which will be part of the United Nations’ climate negotiations. Special thanks to Brad Warren of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership for sending this link to me last night as I was watching the World Series (Go Sox!).

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOS-2013-0018-0003

If you have the time today, please submit a comment, as the future of the seafood industry obviously depends on healthy oceans. Andfeel free to steal! Copy my letter below, if you wish, and refer to the article I wrote on ocean acidification and its potential impacts on the shellfish industry back in September 2009 (the link is below).

If you’re reading this after Oct. 24, there’s still time to take action. Contact your congressional representatives and urge them tomake the oceans a priority.

Thanks for reading!

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To whom it may concern,
As you prepare your draft of the 2014 US Climate Action Report, I urge you to take the serious impacts of ocean acidification, or OA, into consideration. Fisheries and aquaculture stand to face irreversible harm ifcarbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are not reined in and controlled. The US commercial fishing industry, and the US and world economies, would be hurt tremendously if the current rate of acidification continues. Every working waterfront in this country could face dire consequences. The impacts of OA are already being felt in shellfish hatcheries on the West Coast, as bivalve shellfish, in particular, are extremely susceptible to even tinychanges in the oceans’ ecosystem and pH levels. They depend on healthy waters rich with nutrients to simply form their shells. I would like to refer you to an article I wrote more than FOUR YEARS ago about the impacts on the seafood industry already. Please take the time to read this article:

http://www.seafoodbusiness.com/articledetail.aspx?id=4294993753

I appreciate your time and efforts and would urge you to put the oceans’ health on the front burner as they are essential to our planet, our pocketbooks and our plans for the future.

Best regards,
James Wright
SeaFood Business
Portland, Maine

– See more at: http://www.seafoodsource.com/en/commentary/seafoodsource-commentary/24677-be-part-of-the-oa-solution#sthash.if1UFK76.dpuf