Winner, Vision Category
TJ was the Sustainability Director for Gulf Wild, a brand of genuine, responsibly-caught seafood from the Gulf of Mexico that provides traceability and accountability to each reef fish landed. Gulf Wild was created by forward thinking commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico in immediate response to declining sales of seafood due to seafood fraud and the Deep Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.
After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, TJ worked with red snapper fishermen to pioneer an innovative traceability program tracking fish back to the boat and the area they were caught. Through Gulf Wild, TJ pioneered one of the first video monitoring camera programs in the Gulf, established strict standards on bycatch and discarding, and helped design the first of its kind hybrid research project combining the knowledge of commercial fishermen with the expertise of scientists. Gulf Wild places numbered gill tags on every fish so consumers can track information about the catch on any web-enabled device to identify the fisherman who made the catch, the location and time of catch, and the port where fish was landed. Since the program’s inception in 2010, more than a half million unique ID tags for 3.5 million pounds of fish have been tracked to 48 states. TJ also created the Bycatch of the Day Program where by giving commercial fishermen a chance to sell non-target, common reef fish at a competitive market price rather than throwing the fish away.
About TJ Tate
TJ Tate’s background includes taking charge of a fledgling organization developing and implementing the 1st traceable seafood program from the Gulf of Mexico, the 1st Fishery Improvement Project for the Gulf of Mexico, the 1st system and plan for sustainably harvested seafood and distribution in the Gulf of Mexico and took the region to a global stage. On a day-to-day basis, she ensures that challenges occurring within the seafood supply chain can be met and overcome through strategic initiatives and conservation campaigns outlined, defined and implemented. This involves effective management of staff, resources, funder and partner relationships and more importantly being the guardian of trust and compliance of the Gulf of Mexico community of commercial fishermen. She has been an environmental professional for over 18 years bringing her passion of the environment and our oceans to a higher scale of protection. She has recently founded the ByCatch Conservation Fund which works in concert with commercial fishermen to test, design and deploy methods of on the water bycatch reduction to create real ecosystem changes within our nation’s fisheries. She has spoken across the globe in efforts to educate and inform the seafood industry, fishermen and the consumer about the benefits of a sustainable ocean.