On 15 and 16 May, a second high-level dialogue gathered ten of the world's largest seafood companies in a unique global initiative for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. The meeting at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences led to in-depth cooperation and a clear action plan. A study published in PNAS describes the process and highlights the importance of science-business partnerships.
This Keystone Dialogue was a follow-up to the previous dialogue that took place in the Maldives in November 2016, as well as an informal meeting with the largest Japanese seafood companies taking place at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo in April 2017. The top leaders of ten of the world's largest fisheries companies, together with researchers, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Sweden's climate minister, Isabella Lövin, participated in the collaboration of The Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS).
A clear action plan for transition to sustainability
Crown Princess Victoria, Ambassador to the UN Development Goals and Protector for the Dialogue, addressed the business leaders directly in her opening speech:
"You are a global force - not only in your own industry, where you produce high quality food, but equally by the opportunity you have to shape the future of humanity. [...] your words and actions play an important role. A role that is crucial to the health of our marine ecosystems and for the entire planet's resilience. "
The dialogue in Stockholm resulted in deeper cooperation between companies. A clear plan was made for how these major players can jointly develop their capacity to lead the transition to sustainably caught or cultivated fish and shellfish, as well as how companies can take greater global responsibility for the world oceans and for those working in the fishing industry.
Starting in 2012 researchers from Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) GEDB and the Beijer Institute, identified the largest corporations of the global seafood industry, and dubbed them “keystone actors” in marine ecosystems. Inspired by the classical ecology study on “keystone species,” keystone actors are thought to have a disproportionate influence on the structure and function of the oceans.
Based on this work, the researchers engaged with these powerful actors to develop a unique collaboration to address unsustainable practices, such as overfishing, modern slavery, and destructive impacts on habitats and non-target species. SeaBOS is unique in that no other initiative connects wild capture fisheries and aquaculture; science and business; and companies from three major global markets, Asia, Europe, and North America.
The SeaBOS initiative was initated by the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), co-organizers are GEDB and the Beijer Institute and several researchers from these organizations were part of the organising team and participated in the meeting.
From research to action and back to research
In the new PNAS study, the researchers describe how they engaged with large seafood companies, and explore the importance of working together with transnational corporations as means to promote transformative change, a change that could alter international seafood business, and support global sustainability.
“While substantial literature has focused on how science interacts with policy, relatively little is known about interactions between science and business. The strength of our study is to report in detail on such an interaction while putting it into the broader context of sustainability science”, says Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, joint PhD student of GEDB, SRC and the Beijer Institute, who together with Henrik Österblom, SRC, has been instrumental in the establishment of the initiative.
During the UN Oceans conference in New York in June 2017 the SeaBOS initiative and a pledge to protect our oceans was presented by Henrik Österblom and Knut Nesse, CEO of Nutreco, a global leader in animal nutrition and aquafeed, together with Crown Princess Victoria and deputy prime minister Lövin.
Österblom, H., Jouffray, J.-B., Folke, C., Rockström, J. 2017.Emergence of a global science-business initiative for ocean stewardship. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114 (34): 9038-9043