Looking ahead to Sustainable Brands Oceans, 14-16 November 2019 in Porto, Portugal, we caught up with Katherine Bryar — Head of Global Branding and Communications at BioMar — to find out what’s in store.
Along with the climate crisis, our destructive food system and other complex, systemic issues facing threatening our longevity on this planet, the health and sustainability of the ocean and everything it provides has become top of mind in recent years — thanks to growing corporate and governmental mobilization around rescuing this precious resource from our historically exploitative relationship to it.
From endangering fish and other marine life with plastic and other pollution, to killing coral reefs with chemicals and higher temperatures, to overfishing the world’s seafood stocks — the public and private sector are now finally woke to the need to reverse the damage done and protect and preserve the oceans going forward; for our sake, as well as theirs.
“There is an absolute urgency to get moving,” exhorts Katherine Bryar — Head of Global Branding and Communications at sustainable aquafeed giant BioMar and speaker of the upcoming Sustainable Brands Oceans (14-16 November) in Porto, Portugal.
The planet is warming up and the oceans can form a vital part of the solution to reduce the rise in temperature. The key finding of the scientific report, The Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: 5 Opportunities for Action, published at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September, was that ocean-based climate action could deliver up to 21 percent of the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts needed in 2050 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
To maximise this opportunity, industry executives, oceans experts and NGOs gathering at SB Oceans will be asked: How can we enable oceans to be part of the solution and not part of the problem? How do we restore abundance to the oceans by 2050?
Consider, for example, the need for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Recommendations from the IUCN’s 2014 World Parks Congress and 2016 World Conservation Congress called for 30 percent of oceans to be protected by MPAs by 2030. Bryar says that business and NGOs working together can move much faster than governments. A session on Thursday 14th November, the first day of SB Oceans, a panel will discuss a case study on how Greenpeace — along with Biomar, retailers including Tesco and krill supplier Aker BioMarine — worked together to create MPAs, ensuring there remains enough krill for penguins and whales in Antarctica, in as little as six months.
“When everyone’s objective is sustainability, it’s easy to come to the right decision,” Bryar asserts.
Also on Thursday, a plenary session on digitalisation will showcase a number of transparency and traceability tools that verify how fish has been sourced sustainably. This will be expanded on on Friday in a case study with IBM Food Trust, BioMar and Norwegian salmon farmer Kvarøy, explaining how this blockchain technology works in real life.
It’s all about looking for smart answers. Did you know that growing macroalgae (aka seaweed) in the ocean can simultaneously provide aquaculture feed and food for people, while absorbing greenhouse gases and cleaning the ocean? Or that moving aquaculture farming onto land or offshore allows us to use space more efficiently and can be less impactful to the environment?
The event will provide up-to-the-minute insights on how to get involved in ocean conservation, for everyone — not just those from the fishing and food industries. To this point, Bryar relates the power of cross-sector inspiration: “We would never have imagined being inspired by BASF, from the chemical industry; but at a previous Sustainable Brands event, we saw a technical example which we were able to adopt for aquaculture feed. Raw material sourcing is not only for fish food, and we know manufactured goods companies are watching this space with excitement to learn how to improve the traceability of their raw materials.”
A panel discussion on Saturday morning with BioMar, IKEA, the Marine Stewardship Council and trout farmer Pirinea will consider how retailers and consumers can lead ocean conservation; Bryar says that, with more and more consumers choosing sustainable seafood, the panel will discuss how retailer policy and certifications affect consumer choice.
“The beauty of SB Oceans is the opportunity to take time to solve the problems together. We look forward to working day and night on ocean conservation through business solutions. No more talking — now is the time for action,” Bryar says. “Come, be inspired, and find your community of like-minded, sustainability-driven people.”