Sustainability advocates from around the world, working up and down the supply chain, are driving progress through leadership, innovation, vision and an activist spirit

Award plaqueOn March 18, 2017, at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, SeaWeb announced the 16 finalists for the 2017 Seafood Champion Awards who have demonstrated brilliance and tenacity in working across borders, language barriers and industries to change our relationship with the sea.

From fish cops in East Africa to the creator of easily replicated 3-D ocean farms, and from a chef who cycled across Canada promoting sustainable seafood to a company whose solar-powered data collector puts small-scale fishing boats on the map, these Champions show an inspiring level of ingenuity and commitment.

“To create change, you have to forge alliances and bring people together around a common cause,” said Mark Spalding, president of SeaWeb and The Ocean Foundation. “These are not easy things to do, but the Champions on this list have forged ahead and are making real progress.

Now in its 11th year, the Seafood Champion Awards program recognizes individuals and organizations for excellence in promoting environmentally responsible seafood. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on June 5 at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle.

Seafood Champion Award for Leadership

The Seafood Champion Award for Leadership recognizes people and organizations that bring stakeholders together to improve seafood sustainability or ocean health. The finalists are:

Sea Pact

Seafood Champion Awards for Leadership
Four years ago, six North American seafood businesses teamed up to form Sea Pact, a nonprofit dedicated to driving improvement throughout the global seafood supply chain. Now with nine members, Sea Pact has awarded 17 grants to 13 fisheries improvement projects in 8 countries.

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Mariah Boyle

Seafood Champion Awards for Leadership
Known for bridging divides to unite businesses, NGOs and governments in pursuit of common goals, Mariah Boyle of FishWise has led companies such as Albertsons, Target, Hy-Vee and Sea Delight to improve traceability and combat IUU fishing and human rights abuses in their supply chains. Her efforts have positively affected more than 7,500 stores and 250 million pounds of seafood.

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Susi Pudjiastuti

Seafood Champion Awards for Leadership
Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s Minister of Marine Affairs & Fisheries since 2014. She has banned the use of bottom trawlers and other unsustainable catching devices; led the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in her vastly dispersed island nation; and fought against the use of forced labor on fishing vessels.

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Wally Stevens

Seafood Champion Awards for Leadership
Wally Stevens of the Global Aquaculture Alliance is a widely admired leading light in aquaculture, he has developed the GAA as both a competitive force, with its Best Aquaculture Practices certification, and as a precompetitive convener via the annual GOAL conference, the Responsible Aquaculture Foundation, the Global Aquaculture Advocate and other initiatives.

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Seafood Champion Award for Innovation

The Seafood Champion Award for Innovation recognizes those who identify and apply new solutions to ecological challenges, market needs or sustainability barriers. The finalists are:

Karl Warr

Seafood Champion Awards for Innovation
New Zealand fisherman Karl Warr has improved the sustainability of bottom-trawling with a “cage” mechanism that fits onto existing gear and has been shown to free 95 percent of juvenile fish – a “win-win” situation for bycatch organisms and fishers, who save on fuel costs.

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Alan Lovewell

Seafood Champion Awards for Innovation
Alan Lovewell founded the 1,200-member community-supported fishery Real Good Fish. He also runs Bay2Tray, a program within Real Good Fish that brings affordable, local fish to public school districts with high poverty rates, and sends fishermen into classrooms to teach about the ocean, fishing and health.

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Pelagic Data Systems

Seafood Champion Awards for Innovation
Pelagic Data Systems has developed a vessel-tracking technology that provides an affordable, solar-powered data collection device for small vessels. The systems technology has helped combat IUU fishing in Gabon, Mexico, Honduras, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and the U.S.

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FISH-i Africa

Seafood Champion Awards for Innovation
Developing countries are often seen as powerless to stop illegal fishing in their waters. FISH-i, a partnership of eight East African nations, is challenging this perception with a low-cost information-sharing solution to combat illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.

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Seafood Champion Award for Vision

The Seafood Champion Award for Vision recognizes distinctive visions that significantly advance the sustainable seafood community. The finalists are:

Marine Research Foundation

Seafood Champion Awards for Vision
The Marine Research Foundation successfully overcame entrenched opposition to the use of turtle excluder devices in Malaysia. Full rollout of TEDs will save an estimated 4,000 endangered sea turtles a year while making Malaysia’s shrimp fishing industry more sustainable.

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Global Ghost Gear Initiative

Seafood Champion Awards for Vision
For every 125 tons of fish caught, about a ton of ghost gear is left behind. The Global Ghost Gear Initiative is driving solutions by developing best practices and implementing net recycling and ghost gear removal projects.

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Bren Smith

Seafood Champion Awards for Vision
Commercial fisherman Bren Smith pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming. Three years ago, Bren created the nonprofit GreenWave, which is replicating this model on coasts around the world.

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Matt Beaudin

Seafood Champion Awards for Vision
Executive chef Matt Beaudin is leading the shift to local and sustainable seafood in the Monterey Bay region restaurant scene. Chef Matt is known for his work partnering with orphanages to improve the nutritional opportunities and quality of life for the children.

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Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy

The Seafood Champion Award for Advocacy recognizes the promotion of sustainability, use of the media to raise the profile of sustainable seafood, work to strengthen public policy and resource allocations, and championing of advances in sustainable seafood. The finalists are: 

Bill Mook

Seafood Champion Awards for Advocacy
Although ocean acidification is often seen as a Pacific Northwest issue, Bill Mook is an East Coast leader who is modeling how shellfish growers everywhere can address this threat. He has generated thoughtful, practically focused public discussions on ocean acidification.

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Caleb Otto

Seafood Champion Awards for Advocacy
Dr. Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations, has led his small island nation to a position of leadership on the international stage through passionate advocacy for ocean health and sustainability at the United Nations.

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Ned Bell

Seafood Champion Awards for Advocacy
Ned Bell, the Ocean Wise executive chef at Vancouver Aquarium, founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness about sustainable seafood, creating a movement that is impacting the way people think about the seafood they eat.

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International Pole & Line Foundation

Seafood Champion Awards for Advocacy
The International Pole & Line Foundation promotes socially and environmentally responsible pole-and-line fisheries around the world. In 2016, IPNLF played a central role in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s adoption of a precautionary harvest strategy measure, a first for global tuna management.

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