The Seafood Industry Climate Award
The seafood industry has spent the past three decades addressing sustainability through research, certifications, improvement projects and more. While incredible progress has been made, the industry’s relationship to climate change is a relatively new question with limited, although growing, attention and resources.
And time is of the essence. Climate related impacts are disrupting the industry, with more to come, potentially leading to the collapse of fisheries, economies, and viability of the sector.
We believe if innovators, from researchers to product developers to entrepreneurs, have increased attention and resources they can help turn the tide and allow the seafood industry to be a leader in the climate movement.
In September 2022, Acme Smoked Fish Foundation announced the first grant recipients of the Seafood Industry Climate Awards. Each recipient will receive a $40,000 grant this year to support an innovation focused on lowering the carbon footprint within the seafood industry and/or increasing the leadership role of underrepresented groups in the industry. The first three award recipients are Aroostook Band of Mi’kmacs in Maine, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and Luke’s Seafood. Details on each innovation are below.
Together with TD Bank as the catalyst sponsor, Acme’s awards program looks to support innovation that will mitigate the impacts of climate change, while featuring the work of underrepresented groups. In addition to funding, award recipients will have opportunities to work with leaders at Acme Smoked Fish Corp. This is the first cycle of the awards which Acme expects to run in 2023 as well; prior to that, Acme will launch a similar awards program in Chile, where the company operates a smoked salmon facility.
About the Award Recipients
Energy Sustainability of Micmac RAS Hatchery Using Solar Power: Aroostook Band of Mi’kmacs
This SICA award shows the steps the industry can take to adopt solar power energy while developing RAS technology, all while supporting Mi’kmaq food security.
Micmac Farms and Fish Hatchery, run by the Mi’kmaq Nation, currently provides approximately 12,000 pounds of Maine strain Eastern Brook Trout to the community each year, utilizing Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) technology. With this funding, the hatchery will now be able to couple renewable solar power with the existing RAS system, which will be a more viable and environmentally friendly practice. By creating an energy-independent aquaculture system, this project can buffer the disruptions to their food system brought on by climate change and other events. Additionally, the Micmac nation hopes that their work will inspire other native American communities working on similar efforts.
ALFA BETA: Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Boat Energy Transition Accelerator
Fuel usage in wild capture fisheries contribute significantly to carbon emission and high costs in the seafood industry. The ALFA BETA SICA Award takes on this challenge, piloting technology that would lead the way for the electrification of the SE Alaska Trawl Fleet.
ALFA is launching a pilot to convert the Alaska fishing fleet to hybrid diesel/electric as the next best step toward decarbonization. They are working with over 300 fisher-members throughout Alaska, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Energy Transitions Initiative Project Partnership to transfer technologies proven through other forms of transportation, including boats such as ferries and tugboats. The initial pilot will work with two vessels in the fall/winter 2022/2023 to convert to hybrid diesel/electric, track data, and engage the community. The SICA award will be used to purchase equipment for hybridization/decarbonization.
Lift All Boats Initiative: Luke’s Seafood
The lobster industry faces many challenges; among them the rising cost of fuel, the related carbon footprint, as well as the lack of diversity. These challenges are representative of fisheries more broadly in the US, and this program taking on these challenges and showing a path forward that is inclusive and climate positive.
The Lift All Boats Initiative is a student lobstering program that provides access to BIPOC students, mostly immigrants, who typically lack a pathway to become a commercial fisherman in Maine. During the program students learn about the carbon footprint of the fishery and innovations that can reduce emissions from the lobster industry over time. The program just finished its first year and is expanding while also looking for opportunities to replicate the model. The SICA award will help fund the cost of instructors who can join the team on the water as they teach students the ins and outs of piloting a boat, baiting and setting traps, hauling traps, selling lobster, and more in a sustainable manner.
The grantees were chosen by a panel of judges from across the seafood industry:
- Amanda Foster, Corporate Citizenship Manager at TD Bank Foundation
- Laura Rodriguez, Program Officer, The Builders Initiative
- Stacy Schultz, Director Marketing and Sustainability Coordinator, Fortune Fish and Gourmet, and Board Member of SeaPact Foundation
- Sid Shafin, Plant Engineer, Acme Smoked Fish
- Rob Snyder, Chief People and Sustainability Officer, Acme Smoked Fish and Acme Smoked Fish Foundation
- Kate Sindig Daly, Executive Director, NorthLight Foundation
Support for the Seafood Industry Climate Award comes from Acme Smoked Fish Corp. as well supporters including TD Bank, Northside Packaging, Feature Foods International, Buckhead Capital Corp., Eastern Quality Foods, Rampart Insurance Services, Margolin Winer & Evens, LLP, Cole Scholtz P.C., Marc Brownstein, and Larry & Pam Tarica.
The Acme Smoked Fish Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that founded in 2021 in honor of the late Eric Caslow, Co-Chairman of Acme and a leader in the seafood industry for more than fifty years.
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