cynthia

Women in Seafood: Cynthia Yeh

Cynthia Yeh is the Sustainability Coordinator at Royal Hawaiian Seafood. In this role, she handles marketing campaigns, social media, and collaborations with non-profit organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. As for activities, from January 2014-June 2015, she developed and ran the Royal Fishbox seafood subscription program, which was aimed at educating consumers about each fish’s story as well as their culinary features. In 2014, she finally found the necessary customer for the inception of the No Waste program. To date, more than 10,000 pounds of high-value sustainable fish byproduct (broken meat, bones, heads) originally intended for industrial tallow was redirected to a local petfood company. Prior to working for a seafood distributor, Yeh was a Fellow at the non-profit organization the Environmental Defense Fund, a Fellow at the Center of the Blue Economy to assess fishery rights surrounding Cabrara Archipelago Marine National Park, and a Peace Corps volunteer serving two years in the eastern region of Romania. Her hobbies include reading historical fiction, spending time with family, and embarking on adventures. 

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?

Cynthia Yeh: What attracts me to the seafood industry now are explained by these words: international, coastal, family, fun, healthy foods, healthy outdoor environment, water. To answer your question directly, what initially attracted me to the seafood business was my love for recreational fishing with my father, and especially being out on the ocean for California’s ocean run king salmon.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

CY: Sustainability should be important to everyone. I think humans are amazing creatures and we deserve to evolve and continue long into the future. Also, I understand that humans need proteins to survive and fish is a great source of protein. Humans need to develop sustainable food systems or we will eat our planet and all the amazing creatures on it.

SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

CY: We focused on three projects in 2015 with specific goals in mind. To minimize good sustainable seafood waste accumulated at our facility, we developed a program called “No Waste,” which created new markets for seafood byproducts. The extra benefit was an additional revenue stream. To educate consumers and connect them to engaging chefs and seafood producers, we created the Royal Fishbox program. This weekly program offered subscribers seafood themes which included guidance on how to prepare the fish and the story behind the fish. To make traceability more accessible, we ran an internal “Know Your Vendor” campaign and turned that information into product pages. These informative pages are available on our website to anyone up, equal or down the fish supply chain.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

CY: The largest challenge is associating these global problems to peoples’ every day practices. How can my one laziness of pollution impact the globe? The exciting thing about working in the sustainable seafood industry is knowing that each positive impact I make in this field creates a ripple effect and will impact the entire world.

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

CY: Communication is essential. Lack of communication, not wanting to communicate, not understanding or misinterpreting what is said/heard, or making assumptions has made me sign up for my local toastmaster group. I was a scientist, and we need to be able to communicate global impacts based on science into explanations everyone on the globe can understand.

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

CY: I would advise women interested in the seafood industry that you’re going to cause ripples that are evolving the seafood industry’s old school mentality. Your mere presence is already “rocking the boat” so be ready for those ups and downs.

The Vietnam Tuna Association (VINATUNA) accepts role in Sea Delight FIP Support

July 21, 2016. Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen, Vietnam

The well-known Vietnamese NGO, VINATUNA, has agreed to take on the role of assisting Sea Delight in work for the Vietnam Hook and Line Yellowfin Tuna FIP. VINATUNA was founded to support the Vietnam tuna industry and has been an early and strong supporter of the Vietnam Tuna FIP. Sea Delight, as a partner in the Vietnam Tuna FIP, is dedicated to helping complete tasks that are part of the FIP Action Plan.

The first task VINATUNA will assist in will be facilitating circle hook trials with long line vessels, supported by onboard observers, here in Phu Yen province. Sea Delight supplier Ba Hai Company has introduced Sea Delight and VINATUNA representatives to the owner of three local longliners who have agreed to participating in the trials. These trials will be supported by the FIP as well as national and local fisheries ministries.

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Meeting with local longline vessel owners and captains in Phu Yen province

 The trials will be conducted onboard longliners, rather than the handliners that make up the vast majority of the fishery’s vessels, because longline fishing has the potential for greater impact on bycatch species, especially marine turtles. There is already strong scientific evidence that circle hooks mitigate marine turtle bycatch but more research needs to be done.

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Fishers inspect and discuss #14 size C hooks and traditional J hooks

 Sea Delight and VINATUNA met with the vessel owner and outlined the basic concept of the trials. The longliners fish with longline sets of 1,200 baited hooks. The hooks are stored and deployed from baskets of 300 hooks each so there will be 2 baskets of traditional J hooks and 2 baskets of C hooks on each longline. The baskets will be placed on the main line in alternating order for each set of the longline gear.

 3 VINATUNA Chairman Assistant Tran Van Hao will lead the VINATUNA/Sea Delight efforts

VINATUNA is now securing a good supply of high quality circle hooks for the trials and coordinating with the FIP team on the trained observers. The trials are scheduled to begin in August or September. Sea Delight will continue to provide logistical and financial support for the trips.

Work is ongoing on this project and a report updating progress will be found here on the Sea Delight website next month.

 

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SILVIA SALAS

Women in Seafood: Dr. Silvia Salas Marquez

Dr. Silvia Salas Marquez is a researcher at CINVESTAV-Mérida, focusing on the socio-economic issues in the fishery as well as the dynamics of the fleet and the behavior of the fishermen. She is currently working on aspects of risk and vulnerability.

After studying Biology in Mexico City 33 years ago, Dr. Salas Marquez went  to Yucatan for a year to complete her thesis in Fisheries Biology in the business Productos Pesqueros Mexicanos de Yucalpetén. Once in Yucatan she decided to study the Master of Science in CINVESTAV. Throughout all these years she has been devoted to the study of trawl fisheries, flake, crappie and octopus.

 At the beginning of her career Dr. Salas Marquez faced the constant rejection from fishermen to work with her. She was not allowed to take samples, and in general, they made it very difficult for her to conduct her activities. She once had the opportunity to be onboard a larger vessel, but in order to insure her safety, the sales manager of the company had to accompany her. During the fishing trip, the fishermen would kick her fish samples and made jokes. Thanks to her skills playing dominoes, she was able to win a carton of beer which she shared with the fishermen and it contributed to the beginning of a relationship of respect that has grown over the years (and without the need for beers today).

 For some time Dr. Salas Marquez devoted herself to biological studies and creating population models. She also worked in the Sian Kaan reserve in their Environmental Education Program and Forest Extensionism. In this employment her responsibilities were linked to promoting conservation activities and by working with farmers she discovered the importance of socio-economic aspects which have marked her career.

 Dr. Salas Marquez completed her PhD in Natural Resources Management and Environment at the University of British Columbia in Canada. This degree was a multidisciplinary program that included social and economic issues. Subsequently, she completed a Post-doc in Saint-Meris, Nova Scotia Hallifax conducting research on “Economic Aspects of the lobster fishery and fishing subsidies.”

 Today, local fishermen recognize her as someone they trust, and with whom they can speak freely. They recognize the tremendous support Dr. Salas Marquez provides them with in solving the problems of the fisheries sector, in particular in Yucatan, and also in the Southeast region of the country.

 

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?

Dr. Silvia Salas Marquez: Its complexity, which remains a promising industry and yet there is a lot of people who depend on it. The industry is very adaptive, for example, how they change from one species to another and as the actors are changing over time.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

SS: Because it represents food, jobs, currency. Sustainability directly affects many families and fishermen and indirectly all we consume depends on these products. The importance of fishing on the peninsula dates back from the time of the Maya, as it was a very important activity for them. Fishing in Mexico is a matter of national security.

SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

SS: Satellite Monitoring System in artisanal vessels, improving safety fishing fleet monitoring and analysis of how they are working. Collaborate in that every time we are able to get better information and with it to get better assessments of fisheries and fishery resources in Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.

Also in a draft comprehensive scale fishing in the Yucatan Peninsula in which both comprehensive assessments of social, biological, economic and management issues including the value chain are made.

Collaborating with information to improve how commercial diving operation in the region and thereby decreasing diving accidents is promoted.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

SS: As a woman it is difficult to break into a means of men. Also to ensure research contributions are transformed into decision making in the fisheries sector.

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

SS: Participating in productive projects with fishermen will generate a different view because you open yourself to your knowledge, vision, confidence and believe this relationship generated will create spaces to keep building and providing.

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

SS: Whatever it is that you dedicate yourself to, it is important that you like it so you can do your job with pleasure and passion. There will always be problems, but your passion will continue to motivate you to move ahead. If you realize at some point that you do not like this, dare to re-invent yourself. It is a privilege to do something you like.

MINERVA ARCE 2

Women in Seafood: Dr. Minerva Arce

Dr. Minerva Arce was born in Mazatlan, Mexico in 1962. At that time Mazatlan was a coastal shrimping community and her family was involved in that fishing industry. Dr. Arce received her B.S. from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in 1986 where she studied Fisheries Biology in the School of Marine Sciences, Mazatlan. There were only a very few women students in her program and less than 10% women students in her entire classroom.

In 1985, Dr. Arce’s first postion was at the Aquaculture Production Laboratory in Tabasco and she later pursued her M.S. in Marine Biology at CINVESTAV (The Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute) in Merida. Her studies were focused on the lobster industry. At that same time, Minerva also worked on Lake Patzcuaro, where women processed the seafood product that their husbands brought in from the lake. In 1993, she joined the Research Center of Quintana Roo, which in 1995 became a Federal Institution that is integrated to “El Colegio de la Frontera Sur” (ECOSUR). Dr. Arce is presently collaborating  on a project with a group of Mayan fisherwomen in the state of Quintana Roo. Together, these women are engaged in fishing in freshwater cenotes and lakes, and always remain close to home as to not neglect their domestic activities.

 Dr. Arce received her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies (biology and social sciences) at Dalhousie University in Hallifax. In 2007, Dr. Arce’s Thesis won first place as Outstanding Thesis in Social Sciences, dealing with issues of “Adaptation to Climate Change in the Mayan production systems.”. Dr. Minerva Arce also held the title of  Director of ECOSUR Chetumal from 2009 to 2012. She’s currently a full professor and researcher at ECOSUR, where she teaches graduate classes in “ecological economics” and in “development, economy and ecosystems.” She also works on recreational fisheries (from Belize and Mexico) and on rights-based management.

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business?

Dr. Minerva Arce: Overall my love for fish and biology studies, especially related to their care and conservation.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

MA: Because for me it is essential to care for the space in which we live, in this case the ocean and its products and to make sure the resources are available in the future for our own benefit.

SD:  What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

MA: I’m currently working on a study with the Community Conservation Research Network in coordination with St. Mary`s University about the effect of climate change, particularly in the lobster. I am also interested in how do the fishermen perceive resource abundance and what adaptation strategies are they following.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

MA: Trying to inform and engage decision makers to consider sustainability factors, as well as political and economic factors in their decisions.

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

MA: I have learned the need of, and how, human societies self-organize and support each other to seek the common good. How in times of crisis, we come together to solve problems.

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

MA: If they decide to enter the industry, they need to work with passion. I would advise them to study several languages and to also learn from the knowledge of local communities. Also, I would advise them to obtain more life experiences as this will help them to better understand the problems affecting the industry and be able to find better solutions.

 

Quirch Foods, Chefs Trading, and PESMAR Join Forces with Sea Delight and Handy International to move forward Mexican Grouper FIP

Miami, FL. Three new seafood companies both in USA and Mexico decided to become partners of the fishery improvement efforts that Sea Delight, Handy International were already running in partnership with the Center for Development and Sustainable Fisheries (CeDePesca) and the Sea Delight Ocean Fund in Yucatan, Mexico, to get a sound management system and stocks rebuilding for the massive groupers and snappers’ fishery in this country.

Plans, advances and difficulties of this FIP were introduced by CeDePesca to many stakeholders at a round table organized by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) during the last Boston Seafood Show.

“I really believe this is a monumental moment for the Mexican Grouper Fishery Improvement Project,” says Adriana Sanchez, President of the Sea Delight Ocean Fund. “The last Seafood Expo North America was a great opportunity to not only find new business opportunities but also discuss common issues affecting us all. I am very thankful to Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) for organizing the Americas Snapper and Grouper Supply Chain Roundtable and for providing our organizations with the opportunity to present the work we are doing in this fishery.”

After Boston, Quirch Foods, Chefs Trading and the Mexican company Pescados y Mariscos del Caribe S.A (PESMAR) decided to become partners of the FIP.

“Chefs Trading is proud to support the work being done and help with these complex issues. Finding a balance is important to everyone as this fishery provides a lively hood for the people of the region and is also a vital resource for the supply chain and consumers around the globe. We encourage suppliers, distributors, chefs as well as consumers to participate in helping fisheries become more sustainable thru socially responsible fishery improvement projects,” said Chris Wirges, CEO.

“Sustainable and high quality supply is the cornerstone of Panamei Seafoods procurement policy. We have established a purchasing policy geared towards sourcing products from long-term partners, processing plants and farms, which manage the resources in a responsible manner and rely on competent national authorities that employ science-based management approaches to ensuring sustainable harvests. Our participation in the Mexican Grouper FIP takes our commitment towards seafood sustainability one step further, as we become active participants in this FIP to ensure that that the fishery becomes well managed well into the future.” said Alfred Montejo, Procurement Seafood Buyer.

“We are looking forward to cooperating in this essential effort” explained Rudy Abad, Managing Partner of Pescados Y Mariscos del Caribe (PESMAR). “I believe this group is uniquely positioned to assure the continued vitality of what is arguably the most valuable snapper/grouper fishery in the world.”

“This is a very difficult FIP and new partners are needed and very welcomed, underlined Ernesto Godelman, chairman of CeDePesca. We are addressing the intricacies of a very weak management system and very strong social roots for this fishery, and we are proposing an entirely new approach, based on fishing rights, to incorporate the fishermen to the management responsibilities and make the rebuilding possible. Thanks to the hard work of our colleague Minerva Alonso in the field, step by step this proposal is gaining support between the local stakeholders.”

The Sea Delight Ocean Fund received grants in 2014 from Resources Legacy Fund as well as Sea Pact, a coalition of leading sustainable seafood distributors in North America. This funding helped conduct an MSC pre-assessment of the fishery in March of 2014 and support on the ground activities such as reporting on the current status of the fishery and subsequent progress, organizing workshops using the Environmental Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing (ERAEF) to discuss environmental impacts of the fishery; and coordinating local workshops with fishermen to discuss the pre-assessment results. It also helped develop an improvement and activities plan to get the necessary improvements completed.

 

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About Chefs Trading:
Chefs Trading is an International Sourcing, Logistics, Technology and Food Brokerage Company. We specialize in seafood out of Latin America and the Caribbean with a 100% boots on the ground approach to sourcing the best possible products at off the boat pricing with the logistics to reach any one anywhere in hours. Chefs Trading is owned and operated by professional chefs that care and are passionate about food. Traceability and Sustainability are core to our business principles, our products come with our CT traceability tags and a portion of our sales go to help our fisheries become more sustainable. We are licensed, bonded, insured, and ready to help. Give us a call at 1-844-257-0959. https://www.chefstrading.com/

About Quirch Foods®:
Quirch Foods®, established in 1967, is an importer, exporter, and distributor of food products to the retail and food service trade. The company is family owned and directed by the third generation of the Quirch family and is a certified Minority Business Enterprise. Quirch Foods is one of the largest distributors of food products in the Southeastern U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, with a customer list that includes independent and chain supermarkets, food service distributors, processors and manufacturers, cruise lines, and restaurants. In addition to being ranked as one of the largest among the top 50 exporters in the U.S., Quirch Foods is ranked in the top 10 in the Hispanic Business magazine 2014, by measure of revenue amongst Hispanic businesses in the U.S. http://www.quirchfoods.com/

About Pescados y Mariscos del Caribe:
PESMAR produces and distributes wild, line-caught fresh and frozen fish and shellfish from Mexico’s Caribbean coast and fresh and pasteurized crabmeat from the Bay of Campeche. PESMAR’s modern, 10,000 sq. ft. facility is in the heart of the Yucatan’s fish district. Our long history with the local fleet and our emphasis on day-boats ensures that we receive the pick of the catch. Meticulous handling and packing procedures result in a shelf life that greatly exceeds the industry norm. Fish are available whole fresh, whole frozen, fresh fillets and vacuum packaged frozen fillets. PESMAR services export markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia through the convenient transportation hubs of Merida, Cancun and the Port of Progresso. For all of PESMAR’s products, guaranteed consistent quality, long shelf life and on-time delivery are standard. http://www.pesmar.com.mx

About Handy International:
Handy International is America’s oldest seafood processor and has consistently maintained the highest quality standards in the seafood industry for over 100 years. Handy was established in 1894 by John T. Handy and has been located in Crisfield, Maryland since 1903. The plant has relocated to a larger space but is still in Crisfield, Maryland with the corporate office in Salisbury, Maryland. Specializing in the processing of the area’s best-known delicacy: soft crabs, our product line also includes handmade crab cakes and seafood cakes, shrimp products, crab meat, oysters and artisanal fish. We continue to be a family-owned company with a focus on quality and transparency. http://www.handycrab.com

About Sea Delight Ocean Fund:
The Sea Delight Ocean Fund, is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2012 to create and support global fishery improvement projects and better fishing practices initiatives that protect marine resources and promote conservation efforts globally. http://www.sdoceanfund.org

About CeDePesca:
The Center for Development and Sustainable Fisheries was founded in Mar del Plata city, Argentina, in 1997. It is a Latin American non-for-profit Civil Association with legal status granted by Mexican, Brazilian, Argentine, Panamanian, Peruvian and Chilean authorities. It has the mission of working towards socially, economically and ecologically sustainable fisheries, together with local fishers, fishing industry and the supply chain. It aims mainly at training, researching and spreading management systems that ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and, within this framework, supporting the organizational development of small-scale fishermen as well as the creation of a legal and economic framework that ensures their increasing participation in resource management and in the protection and fostering of this sector on a Latin-American regional scale. Currently CeDePesca is driving 10 FIPs involving 7 Latin American countries. http://www.cedepesca.org/

Lingcod

Women in Seafood: Lauren Breault

Lauren Breault is the Account Executive with All Seas Wholesale, Inc., the leading wholesale distributor of fresh, quality and sustainable seafood based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Breault grew up in the small town of Westford, Massachusetts, and relocated to California eight years ago. She has been involved in the seafood industry and fishing on both East and West Coasts all her life, but has been in the seafood industry as a career just over the last year. Coming into work every day, she enjoys taking in the biggest breath of air and smelling the ocean.  That is how, she said, you know the seafood is super fresh!  Breault is pictured with her favorite fish the Lingcod.

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?

Lauren Beault: I jokingly tell people I was born with a fishing pole in my hands and that I love to go fishing as much as the average person enjoys breathing; because it is true.  I have loved fishing as far back as I can remember standing at the waters’ edge excitedly with my dad and my grandfather.  After an 11-year-career in banking, I was introduced to my current boss, Peggy Howse, who knew I did sales and loved to fish.  Those things combined created a unique opportunity for me to work in the seafood industry.  This was my chance to work in a career that aligned with my passion, allowed me to learn more about the industry and how fishing sustainably affects the ocean. Let alone how excited I was to wear jeans every day to work! One thing led to another and Peggy made me an offer I could not refuse.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

LB: As I mentioned before fishing is my life and passion.  If we are not fishing in a sustainable manner the future generations will not have an opportunity to know and enjoy fishing like I do.  It all comes down to respect and science.  We must take the necessary steps to fully respect and understand the ecosystems, global warming, fishing, over fishing and catch methods to ensure we maintain healthy populations in all of our oceans.

SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

LB: Every day I am working on educating my customers on sustainability. Not everyone knows what “sustainably caught” means.  It is my job not only to provide seafood to the Bay Area but also to ensure they know what they are buying, how it was caught and where it is coming from.  By educating people they will share this knowledge with other people in their kitchens so that they can make better choices when they place their orders now and in the future. I aspire to create a non-profit organization that creates fishing experiences for everyone with a focus on children, disabled, elderly and veterans.  The more people I can teach or get excited about fish the more people will understand how important it is to protect our oceans for years to come.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

LB: Personally my biggest challenge was to learn as much as possible about seafood, catch method, origin and cooking preparations. Although I had a strong background in fishing, I was not familiar with all the different species of fish and shellfish from all over the world.  I continue to learn something new every day and the industry is ever changing.  When my customers have questions I need to have the answers.  The San Francisco Bay Area is a unique food market where I feel more people here want to know about their food then in other markets.  The word sustainable is as common as the word Golden Gate Bridge here.  The biggest challenge is to already have all the answers.

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

LB: I have learned that seafood sales are just like fishing and without a strong focus on sustainability it will not exist for future generations.  With fishing you need to adjust your method depending on many factors including temperature, time of day, cloudy or sunny, depth of water, clarity of water, and season.  With wholesale seafood you need to check the temperature of the chef/purchaser, their sustainable priorities, needs, delivery times, and overall expectations.  Then you need to exceed those expectations, continually educate, and ensure that you maintain a strong relationship.  A.K.A. Set the hook and keep them on the hook!

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

LB: With your tax return this year buy some fishing gear and go fishing. Go fishing and bring your friends, family and children.  If you don’t know how to do it then go online and search how to do it.  There are also tons of sport fishing guides everywhere who will let you rent gear from them.  Go fishing. Practice fishing.  Teach fishing and repeat.  This is one way you can learn to get excited about fish.  Once you are “hooked” then you can look into industry leaders in seafood close to where you live.  Call them up and ask them for a tour of their facility.  Investigate where your skills will fit best into the seafood industry and go for it.  I promise you that you will not have one boring day!

Team-Fish2.0

Women in Seafood: Norah Eddy, Laura Johnson, and Gina Auriemma

Norah Eddy is the co-founder and in charge of sales of Salty Girl Seafood. Eddy has worked in and on the water for most of her life, having spent countless days at sea and working in fisheries all over the world. She is an avid surfer and all-around water woman. Her passion for fisheries stems from an upbringing in a small New England fishing town and led her to completing her master’s thesis working to improve the Galapagos lobster fishery at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management in 2014.

 Laura Johnson is the co-founder and COO of Salty Girl Seafood. Originally from Chicago, Johnson grew up fishing and running boats around the Northwoods. She’s spent time on the ocean working as a guide in Alaska, as a dive technician on Maui, and as a biologist aboard commercial crabbing vessels in Dutch Harbor, AK. She graduated from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management in 2014 having completed a master’s thesis working to improve the Galapagos lobster fishery.

 Gina Auriemma is in marketing with Salty Girl Seafood. Auriemma comes from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest and has a background in outreach, visual media, and environmental economics. She graduated from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management in 2014, studying global fisheries management systems that incentivize sustainability. Her passion for the ocean drives her dedication to ensuring healthy, sustainable fisheries for generations to come.

Sea Delight: Sustainable seafood is an industry for the future. Maintaining a healthy ocean with responsibly sourced fish is simply good business. What attracted you to the seafood business in the first place?

Salty Girl Seafood: We joined together when we were students in graduate school at the University of California, Santa Barbara over a shared passion for and background in fisheries. At the time, there were many issues being brought to the forefront of the media, such as seafood mislabeling, slavery and human rights issues in the industry, among others. We had previously worked with fishermen and scientists and saw some amazing advances the industry was making towards sustainable management. Salty Girl Seafood was started to help promote the individuals supporting healthy oceans and fisheries and to increase access to sustainable, traceable seafood.

SD: The seafood industry is a significant contributor to the world’s growing need for healthy sustainable food. Why is sustainability important to you?

Salty Girl Seafood: Sustainability is incredibly important for both present and future generations. We believe it doesn’t have to mean leaving ecosystems untouched or fishing populations unfished, but means ensuring that our resources will exist for enjoyment and sustenance long into the future. There is a social component of sustainability, too — sustainable practices consider livelihoods and can be essential to keeping traditions and cultures thriving.

SD: What are some of the projects you are currently working on that will enhance the future of the seafood industry?

Salty Girl Seafood: We want consumers to feel they can trust the Salty Girl brand and have confidence that they are purchasing sustainably sourced, quality seafood. For that reason, traceability and transparency are pillars of our company and (rather unfortunately), somewhat unique to the industry. We’re also always working on finding new ways to help promote our fishermen and draw consumers into the story of their fish through engagement and education – both of which are very important to us. Soon we will be working with our first international fishery, supporting efforts of responsible harvesters around the world, with more to come! Stay tuned for new product updates and news on the fisheries where we work by signing up at http://www.SaltyGirlSeafood.com.

SD: The seafood industry is one of the most complex global systems in the world because it’s about feeding people. What has been your biggest challenge working in the industry in general and also addressing sustainable seafood?

Salty Girl Seafood: Just getting started! The industry is old and has operated the same way for years, so many businesses are set in their way of doing things. Regardless, we’ve still seen a lot of interest in innovation in the industry, so being young and innovative has given us an advantage. Another issue we’ve dealt with is the definition of sustainability. It’s a word that gets used widely throughout the industry with no clear definition, which often leads to a lot of confusion for the consumer. We work to be transparent in our decision-making process and selection of the fisheries that we work with so businesses and consumers can make their own decisions.

SD: The best leaders are lifelong learners. What have you learned most recently that has made an impact on your career?

Salty Girl Seafood: We learn every day! It’s part of the fun. The biggest thing has been learning how to lead a team in the right direction, particularly when you’re still learning to do something you’ve never done before. You don’t have anyone to tell you what to do and you have to figure it out 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s exhausting, but it’s always rewarding.

SD: What advice would you give other women interested in a career in the seafood industry?

Salty Girl Seafood: Persistence and a tough mindset are key. As a woman, you bring an uncommon face and perspective to the industry, which at times may be resisted. However, there is a lot of innovation happening in the industry and women are participating more and more. It’s a really exciting time to be joining in and making a difference.