2014 Grants Challenge

Seafood for the Future

Seafood for the Future is a community of people and businesses working to promote healthy, responsible seafood choices.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Our mission is to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay


Long Beach

What is your idea/project in more detail?

By 2050 our global population will reach 9 billion. Coastal cities like L.A. will look to the ocean for food sources more than ever before. But our ocean is not limitless. More than two thirds of the world’s fisheries are harvested at capacity, threatening our food supply, marine ecosystem, and coastal lifestyle. Seafood for the Future is a nonprofit seafood advisory program building a community of consumers, chefs, restaurants, fisheries, and farmers to promote healthy seafood choices. We are the only regional group working across the supply chain, but we need new tools for consumers to tackle the issue from the demand side. With demand for sustainable seafood, we can ensure that people, fish, and the ocean are all part of the equation.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Seafood for the Future (SFF) works at all levels of the supply chain to bring about change, generates public awareness of ocean issues, and helps consumers make responsible choices about seafood that support family budgets, local economies, and our ocean ecosystem. We have successful partnerships with chefs, restaurants, fisheries, and distributors, and while we will continue to grow the business advisory aspect of our program, our focus now is on generating tools for the consumer.

Ultimately, the consumer controls the demand for seafood. By empowering the public with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthy, responsible seafood choices, we can shift the demand in favor of sustainable seafood options, healthier communities, and abundant ocean ecosystems.

To do this, we need to educate the public about the health and economic benefits of eating a variety of seafood. Our consumer platform will create a number of new digital resources, our community’s preferred source of educational and consumer information, in collaboration with a nutrition expert and local chefs.

1. Instructional cooking videos and easy recipes for healthy seafood meals for busy, budget conscious families.

2. A podcast series that discusses the future of seafood and how our food choices are affecting the ocean and local L.A. seafood communities from fisherman, to restaurants, to consumers.

3. A social media campaign that catalogs recipes for healthy, affordable seafood meals contributed and reviewed by the public.

4. An expanded web tool that showcases local restaurants and businesses providing seafood from responsible sources. Participating businesses will label responsible seafood items with the SFF California Local icon.

Videos will be produced by the Aquarium's award-winning audio visual production team, which has won 14 international Telly awards. We will use existing relationships within the seafood industry in Southern California (chefs, fishermen, aquaculture farmers, scientists, and government and non-government organizations) to provide content for podcasts. The Aquarium's marketing department will inform and promote the social media campaign and digital resources to 1.5 million onsite visitors and 3 million visitors to the website annually.

Seafood for the Future is a non-profit seafood advisory program based at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the second most-visited cultural destination in Los Angeles County.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LIVE today? In 2050?

In Los Angeles, the urban ocean is one-of-a-kind. Its beauty attracts people from around the world in search of inspiration, adventure, and rejuvenation. It offers an uncharacteristically forgiving oceanography, and the second-largest port system in the world, supporting local, national, and global economies. The ocean regulates our weather, supplies our food and medicines, and sustains all life on the planet.

But the ocean is in a state of duress–overfishing, bycatch, and habitat damage are threatening the health of our ocean and seafood supply. We have the opportunity and the responsibility, especially in Los Angeles, a coastal metropolis and one of the largest economies in the world, to model a balanced approach to seafood consumption that is healthy for people, communities, and the planet.

The United States has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (the area extending from the coastline out 200 miles) of any nation on Earth. And, the United States is a global leader in sustainable fishing—our fisheries are some of the best managed in the world. Yet 91% of our seafood is imported, (mostly farmed tilapia and shrimp that provide fewer nutrients), while we export a third of our heart healthy, omega-rich, sustainably-fished and farmed seafood.

Seafood is an important part of a healthy diet and Americans do not eat enough. With easy-to-use digital tools and access to educational resources, the public can make affordable, nutrient-rich, local sustainable seafood choices today. Consumers have the power to influence sourcing with our wallets, and Seafood for the Future’s new tools will guide consumer decision-making all the way from the grocery store to the dinner table.

In 2050, we envision a new relationship between humans and the ocean–one that sustains healthy, abundant ecosystems and economies. Our ocean is resilient, and given the chance, marine species can recover from over-fishing. Since 1999, with a stringent U.S. protection plan and international cooperation, the swordfish population has nearly fully recovered from a state of severe depletion to healthy levels. By 2050, with low consumer demand, better management of fisheries, and conservation efforts in place, we can rebuild the population of many more threatened species while supporting a rapidly growing population (expected to be 9 billion by 2050) with access to healthy, nutrient-rich, and affordable seafood options.

Whom will your project benefit?

Eating the right types of seafood is healthy for people and the planet. It will require a balanced approach that includes seafood from well-managed fisheries, responsible aquaculture, and imports from sustainable sources. This approach to seafood consumption will reduce pressure on wild stocks, promote ecologically responsible aquaculture, and reduce our climate impacts by balancing imports with local seafood sources.

Consumers: Seafood is a healthy source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, low-fat protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The U.S. FDA and EPA recently released updated advice that recommends pregnant women and young children to eat two to three servings of a variety of low-mercury fish per week to promote healthy brain development. This project will provide tools and resources for families on the go to enjoy quick, healthy, and responsibly-sourced seafood meals that balance our nutritional needs with our impact on the ocean.

Restaurants and Businesses: Heightened consumer awareness will strengthen SFF and other organizations' efforts to promote restaurants and businesses that are working to source responsibly. In addition, the education and outreach programs will offer information on where to buy local seafood and delicious recipes to inspire chefs and restaurants to diversify their menus to incorporate local seafood items such as sablefish, sardines, and rockfish.

Local Fishermen and Coastal Communities: Most of the seafood harvested in Southern California is shipped to international markets. The outreach tools developed by the project will make buying local easy and affordable. By supporting local seafood consumption, consumers will be connected to local fishing communities and committed to revitalizing our working waterfront to support fishermen, our coastal communities, and other projects such as environmentally-sound aquaculture.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

LA Kitchen (confirmed): LA Kitchen is a nonprofit providing youth aging out of foster care and older adults in the prison system hands-on training for careers in the food service and health care industries. SFF works with LA Kitchen to teach participants about healthy seafood choices in the food service industry. Affordable options, exciting recipes, and the opportunity to promote the efforts of LA Kitchen participants are critical to a successful collaboration.

Trace and Trust (confirmed): Trace and Trust is building a community of food professionals dedicated to celebrating the farmers and fishermen behind our food. Using the Trace and Trust platform, restaurants trace their menu items directly to the farmers and fishermen responsible for the food and share these stories with their patrons. Trace and Trust members include restaurants, distributors, fishermen, farmers, and ranchers in Southern California and other locations, as well as aquaculture farms. SFF is the first aquarium partner working with Trace and Trust to support local seafood communities and promote responsible seafood from the boat or the farm to the plate. This successful collaboration will include promotion to Aquarium audiences, diverse avenues to share stories from social media to onsite festivals, and connecting our partners with Trace and Trust's project and mission.

Local Fishermen and Producers (confirmed): SFF works closely with local fishermen and aquaculture producers to promote healthy and responsible seafood choices. Our new tools will include education and outreach materials that feature local fishermen, directories of local fish markets where consumers can buy direct, and a local seasonality chart for chefs and consumers. These new tools will help bridge the gap between consumers and the source of their seafood.

SFF Restaurant and Business Partners (confirmed): SFF has established a network of restaurant, distribution, and retail partners working together to promote responsible seafood sourcing. Our partner chefs will star in the video demonstration series, provide seafood for cooking demonstration and educational purposes, and host cooking demonstrations at outreach events.

How will your project impact the LA2050 LIVE metrics?

Access to healthy food

Abundant ocean ecosystems and a thriving local seafood community.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Many people do not recognize the health benefits associated with eating seafood, especially the nutrient-rich local seafood that is largely exported in favor of less healthy farmed fish and shrimp. Nor do we understand the environmental consequences that over-fishing, bycatch, and habitat degradation have on the health of our ocean. SFF's new outreach tools will teach Angelenos where to buy and how to cook different types of sustainable seafood to support better nutrition, smarter consumer choices, and a healthy ocean ecosystem. It will also create a forum for sharing great recipes for local seafood that are quick, easy, and budget-conscious. Finally, this set of tools will teach the general public about the fundamental health benefits of eating a variety of types of seafood, especially nutrient-rich, local fish using panelists from across the seafood and health industries. SFF has built a community of people that are making local, heart-healthy, sustainably-sourced seafood affordable and delicious, and we are ready to help our community reimagine its ideas about seafood.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

SFF measures successful partnerships by the improvements in their sourcing practices and the quantities of locally and sustainably-sourced seafood available and consumed the region. For the purposes of public education and outreach, we will measure success through a series of surveys conducted onsite at the Aquarium and via email and social media. Surveys before program participation will create baseline data about our audiences from which we will evaluate changes in knowledge and behavior, including:

1. Knowledge (baseline and post-program) of the health benefits of eating certain types of seafood.

2. Knowledge (baseline and post-program) of ocean issues relating to seafood consumption.

3. Responses to recipes shared and likelihood to try recipes like these at home or in restaurants.

4. Likelihood to look for more sustainable types of seafood at grocery stores and restaurants.

5. Effectiveness of outreach tools, including usability, educational value, and accessibility.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Health of the Ocean: The global population has passed 7 billion and is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. One in three people on this planet depends on seafood for their primary source of protein and with the growing awareness of the health benefits of eating seafood, demand is on the rise. More than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been harvested at or above their maximum capacity and aquaculture, or fish farming, has surpassed wild capture production to meet the growing demand. Preventing the collapse of our wild-capture fisheries and reducing impacts from aquaculture will require a balanced approach to seafood sourcing, beginning with consumer demand for better seafood choices, and supported by well-managed local fisheries, responsible aquaculture practices, and sustainably fished and farmed imports.

Human Health: The U.S. FDA and American Heart Association recommend two-to-three servings of a variety of seafood per week as sources for heart-healthy Omega-3s, low-fat protein, and various vitamins and minerals. Despite clear evidence that eating more of the right types of seafood is good for us, Americans are still not eating enough. Simply put, we avoid foods that we are unfamiliar with. Shrimp, salmon, and tuna are the top consumed seafood items in the U.S. with whitefish, such as tilapia (which has relatively little nutritional value in terms of seafood) and cod and pollock (fish sticks anyone?) close behind. These are not bad choices, but we need a variety of seafood to ensure we are getting the right balance of nutrients. Right here in Southern California there is a wealth of low-fat protein, heart-healthy Omega-3s, and a variety of nutrients, such as selenium, niacin, and B and E vitamins, available in the form of sablefish, sardines, anchovies, and more. Canned and frozen products also offer easy and affordable options for bringing healthy seafood protein into family meals. SFF’s new resources will teach consumers how to prepare budget-friendly delicious meals from diverse sources of sustainable seafood.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Seafood for the Future is a reputable seafood advisory program with a diverse portfolio of partners and education materials. This project will strengthen our efforts by focusing on implementing new tools for the consumer. We will use our existing relationships and partners to build the tools and promote them to an established audience of 1.5 Aquarium visitors and 3 million online users annually.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

1. “I don’t like fish because it is too fishy.”

Many people claim that they don’t like seafood, or that they have become sick from eating seafood. When seafood is sourced and prepared correctly, it is healthy and delicious. And, as with any food product, proper sourcing and handling will also reduce the risk of seafood poisoning. SFF will address this issue by exposing the public to new recipes through live cooking demos and web videos.

Anecdotally, SFF successfully changed visitors minds about an abundant local fish, pacific mackerel. We featured the mackerel at a cooking demo at the Aquarium’s Urban Ocean Festival in May. The guests were skeptical, but after they tried it, we were bombarded by requests for the recipe and to serve the dish at Café Scuba, the Aquarium’s onsite restaurant. Kids and parents alike enjoyed the dish.

2. Seafood Fraud

While seafood fraud is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, the numbers reported by the media are skewed. Eating locally-sourced seafood greatly reduces the risk of seafood fraud. The podcast series will address issues like seafood fraud through panel discussions reflecting the opinions of diverse stakeholders, and will educate the public about existing programs that are in place to address the issue on international, national, and state levels.

3. The Right Mix of Nutrition and Ease

This project will be successful if it involves experts that balance nutrition and culinary expertise with recipes that taste good, are budget-conscious, and are fairly simple and quick to prepare. SFF and the Aquarium have worked with health experts in the past, most recently in the development of our Mercury in Seafood Exhibit, which was created in partnership with Stony Brook University. We will leverage our current connections and forge new relationships with experts specializing in healthy seafood consumption.

What resources does your project need?

Money (financial capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Community outreach