Let’s look at each innovation category in more detail.
1. New tools that track climate change effects and aid fisheries management
The need to track and adapt to climate change effects — ocean temperature, salinity, currents, acidity and other factors that vary over time and place — is fueling the emergence of "seatech," a suite of data capture, analysis and visibility tools that could have more impact on our food system than agtech.
These technologies can detect algal blooms, oil spills and rising acidity levels before anyone lays eyes on them, and alert scientists, fishers and fish farmers to what’s coming. Fishers also can use the new tools to document their catch, so they can meet new traceability mandates and tell consumers the story of their fish.
2. Gear, processes and products that make better use of the seafood we catch
Gear upgrades are helping fishers reduce bycatch, habitat destruction and equipment loss. And the need to better use and manage our limited resources is inspiring creative processing mechanisms and products that reduce waste and improve the value of each fish by creating premium products such as fish jerkies or leather from fish parts previously sold for pennies or discarded.
3. Supply chain innovations that tie into globalization and online sales
Product globalization and the growth of online sales are shifting supply chains in the seafood sector just as they are in other consumer markets. We now expect to get the exact sustainable, fresh and healthy products we want, delivered to our door quickly and cheaply. Entrepreneurs are responding with direct-to-consumer seafood sales, as well as new logistics and packaging options that cut costs and boost quality. This is happening all over the world, and it’s opening new, high-value local market opportunities in countries that long have been net exporters of seafood.
4. New feeds and production technologies keyed to aquaculture’s growth
We need aquaculture to help feed a growing, increasingly health-conscious global middle class. But growth can’t happen at the expense of maxed-out wild fish stocks. That challenge is drawing biotech innovators to the hunt for new fish feeds that don’t come from other fish — a multibillion-dollar market all on its own. Others are developing technologies that help fish farmers prevent disease and operate more efficiently, so that fish losses don’t hobble growth.
An exhilarating rush of change lies ahead
The need for change in seafood has been obvious for quite a while, and these five global trends are not new for most market analysts. What is new is the growth of sustainable seafood innovations that align with these trends. And we’re excited to see that each innovation area is hooking into market growth opportunities created by at least two of the five global trends.
From the Fish 2.0 vantage point, it’s clear that we are at the start of a steep growth curve leading to a major market transformation — and the climb will be exhilarating.