As part of the University of California Global Food Initiative, UCSB hosted its first “Food from the Sea” summit yesterday, which focused on the role of fisheries and aquaculture in global food systems. Experts shared existing data and upcoming research and attendees learned about the environmental impact of overfishing on ecosystems.
The Global Food Initiative was launched in collaboration with partnering UC campuses, including UC Davis, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz, and the Environmental Law Institute. It aims to promote joint research opportunities between environmental scientists on the impact of harvesting the ocean, as well as to raise awareness on seafood sustainability and renewable food sources.
Chris Costello, a professor of Environmental and Resource Economics in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, helped lead the event, which was held in the Marine Science Institute.
“We had a very successful first day of the summit. We heard from global experts from around the UC system speaking on issues of aquaculture sustainability, wild fisheries management, ecosystem sustainability, and global food security and human health,” Costello said. “This is a great outcome for the initiative. and will allow us to launch into new and impactful areas of research across UC campuses.”
The event focused specifically on aquaculture, management of wild fisheries and issues with pollution that surround the fishing industry.
Isaac Chavez, a fourth-year microbiology major, said that the marine food industry is often ignored and deserves further investigation into its broad environmental impacts.
“There has been a big deal about promoting a local, organic food industry, but the seafood industry has been largely ignored,” Chavez said. “A good thing to take out of this is that by eating local fish, not only do we enjoy the benefit [of] eating more freshly, but we are also reducing CO2 emissions by not transporting fish from different places to our area.”
Laura Johnson, a recent Masters graduate of the Bren School with a research focus on Galapagos lobster fishery, was at the summit to talk about her startup company Salty Girl Seafood. It focuses on catering to restaurants and providing access to seafood from sustainable fisheries. She is currently developing an ordering platform that will allow restaurants to have easy access to information on stock supplies, where the seafood originated from and a way to order specific types of seafood.
According to Johnson, her startup centers on “sustainability, traceability and quality.”
“We’re really excited to be a part of UCSB’s Food Initiative and a part of the movement that’s leading change around the country,” Johnson said.
The event is scheduled to continue next year in raising awareness and forging partnerships among the leaders in marine environmental sustainability