Sustainable Seafood Initiative
Sustainable Seafood Initiative
The welfare of billions of people—and indeed the stability of life on earth—depends on vibrant, healthy oceans. Overfishing across the globe has driven numerous species to extinction and ocean ecosystems to the point of collapse. Developing and commercializing plant-based and cell-based seafood is the most tractable path for ensuring seafood sustainability and improving the health of our oceans.
GFI’s mission is to empower innovators to create delicious, convenient, affordable plant-based and cell-based products that allow consumers to make the sustainable choice the default choice, and there is arguably no more urgent product category for this approach than seafood. Seafood poses unique challenges for both plant-based and cell-based innovators, and GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative provides targeted research and support with a laser focus on accelerating this sector.
The Sustainable Seafood Initiative will be adding new resources, team members, and research throughout 2019 and beyond.
Global demand for seafood continues to grow while the quantity we are able to supply from our oceans declines. One-third of all fish stocks are being depleted faster than they can replenish and another 60 percent of stocks are fished at the maximum sustainable level.1 Fishing methods themselves also threaten the health of our oceans. Bycatch represents over 40 percent of the entire global fish catch.2 Coral reefs, which harbor 25 percent of ocean fish species despite covering just 0.1 percent of the sea floor, provide up to $400 billion in economic benefits each year and are easily damaged by bottom trawling.3 By destroying habitat and threatening marine species with collapse or extinction, mismanagement of fisheries leads to a cascade of adverse impacts on entire ocean ecosystems.
LIMITATIONS OF FISHERY MANAGEMENT
Aquaculture is a relatively new phenomenon, with approximately half of all freshwater and marine farmed species having been domesticated within just the last 30 years. The aquaculture industry has exhibited a meteoric rise in recent years, masking and overcompensating for declining wild-caught harvests.4
LIMITATIONS OF AQUACULTURE SYSTEMS
Wild fisheries are already harvested at maximum capacity, and they are increasingly yielding species that are of low value for human consumption, which are instead processed into fishmeal and fish oil. Coupled with projections for a slowed rate of growth of the aquaculture industry in coming years, this creates a severe demand-supply gap. In fact, aquaculture growth is only anticipated to keep pace with increased demand for 17 countries, while around 170 countries will be left with substantial unmet demand.10 Thus, there is an urgent and sizable need for altogether new approaches to meet increasing global demand for seafood.
Plant-based seafood is made from plant-derived ingredients processed to replicate the taste and texture of seafood. Cultivated seafood is produced by cultivating cells from aquatic animals.
WHY PLANT-BASED AND CULTIVATED SEAFOOD?
These benefits create an opportunity for plant-based and cultivated seafood products to provide a healthier and ultimately less expensive alternative to conventional seafood.
Given that virtually no dedicated funding outside of a few companies’ R&D budgets has been expended in this area and that the estimated total global R&D expenditure to date across all forms of plant-based and cultivated seafood is on the order of $10-20 million, this industry exhibits tremendous potential to benefit from concerted public and private resource allocation.
Research opportunities to accelerate the development and commercialization of plant-based and cultivated seafood:
Accelerating the development and commercialization of scalable plant-based and cultivated seafood products that compete on taste, price, accessibility, and nutritional quality with their ocean-derived counterparts should comprise a core component of global strategies to maintain the vitality and, ultimately, the survival of our oceans.
1 FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 - Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2018.
2 Davies RWD, Cripps SJ, Nickson A, Porter G. Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Mar Policy. 2009;33: 661–672.
3 CEA. Our Shared Seas: A 2017 Overview of Ocean Threats and Conservation Funding. California Environmental Associates; 2017.
4 Duarte CM, Marbá N, Holmer M. Rapid domestication of marine species. Science. 2007;316: 382–383.
5 Watts JEM, Schreier HJ, Lanska L, Hale MS. The Rising Tide of Antimicrobial Resistance in Aquaculture: Sources, Sinks and Solutions. Mar Drugs. 2017;15.
6 Conte FS. Stress and the welfare of cultured fish. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2004;86: 205–223. 7 FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 - Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2018.
8 FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 - Meeting the sustainable development goals. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2018.
9 Carney M. Japanese scientists breed first captive bluefin tuna. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation; 8 Apr 2015. Available: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-08/bluefin-tuna-farming-japan/6373310.
10 Junning Cai PL. Short-term projection of global fish demand and supply gaps. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2017.
11 Food Allergies: What You Need to Know. In: USFDA [Internet]. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; Feb 2018 [cited 2 Aug 2018]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm079311.htm
12 Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know. In: USFDA [Internet]. Nov 2017 [cited 2 Aug 2018]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm393070.htm
Please enter your contact information to download An Ocean of Opportunity Action Paper and Summary
GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative is crafting high-impact research proposals to address critical challenges facing the plant-based and cell-based seafood sector. These projects will greatly reduce the barrier to entry for new researchers and innovators. Find the summaries for our latest proposals below.
GFI is funding work at Mote Marine Laboratory on the development of embryonic lines from red drum and whiteleg shrimp, and at Tufts University on the development of myosatellite lines from Atlantic salmon.
An early priority of GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative is research aimed at establishing a cell line repository, optimizing media formulations and protocols for use with the lines in the repository, and characterizing conventional seafood products. In the future, we’ll be expanding our research efforts in order to support the advancement of sustainable and delicious seafood products in whatever way we can!
If you’ve ever had the thought, “I wish GFI were supporting research into…” and it had anything to do with seafood, we’d like to hear from you!
The more our research priorities can be shaped by the real challenges being faced by researchers and companies, the more of an impact we will have. Whether it’s a specific technical approach you’d like to see us explore pertaining to one of the areas above, or something more outside the box, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
If you are a researcher exploring or hoping to explore cultivated seafood in your own lab, there may be a way for us to work together. Even if your project is outside the scope of the areas we’re currently funding, we can connect you to potential collaborators or appropriate funding agencies.
Please contact us to request the full proposals on the cell line repository or the characterization project, or to start a dialogue about other research directions!
The GFIdeas community features a Slack channel dedicated to seafood. If you’re interested in connecting with others in this space, we would love to hear from you!
GFI is partnering with the reagents company Kerafast to establish a repository of cell lines relevant to cultivated meat and seafood. This repository will streamline the process of sharing cells for research use between labs and/or companies, and cut down on unnecessary and unhelpful duplication of effort. We hope that easier access to validated cell lines will bring us closer to the day when cultivated meat and seafood come to market. If you or someone you know has a line that they would like to make available through this resource, or for more information, please contact email@example.com. You can also use this form to indicate interest in either depositing or accessing cell lines (as of May 2020, there are no lines available, but we can update you when a line from your species of interest is deposited).
For those considering depositing a cell line, we’ve put together a brief document that outlines the commercial case for doing so, and some of the considerations that might impact your decision. You can find that document here.
Want to learn more about the latest developments in the future of seafood? Check out the resources below. You can also join our GFI e-newsletter mailing list.
If you’re a foodservice operator or retailer looking for information on serving or stocking the latest plant-based seafood products, check out our Plant-Based Products Database.
To find the most up-to-date listing of all the cell-based and plant-based companies in GFI’s orbit—including leaders in cell-based and plant-based seafood—check out our company database.
If you’re an investor looking for early opportunities in this sector, please join our Investor Directory. If you’re a scientist or entrepreneur looking to join a community of like-minded innovators to launch your sustainable seafood endeavor, sign up for our GFIdeas Community.
Check out our latest job openings in the Sustainable Seafood Initiative and please share them among your networks! We have ambitious growth plans for 2019 and beyond.
If you’d like to discuss partnership opportunities with GFI as we expand our Sustainable Seafood Initiative, please let us know. We welcome the opportunity to talk with other nonprofits and NGOs, researchers, investors, and innovators who are keen to support the development of plant-based and cell-based seafood.
This program is made possible thanks to generous donors. Philanthropic support is vital to our mission. To discuss how you can be part of this transformative work with your gift or grant, please contact GFI's development department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-849-4457.