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Point of View: John Connelly

President, National Fisheries Institute, McLean, Va.

Property of SeaFood Business magazine

November 01, 2008

Knowledge is power," is a quote most often attributed to English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon is known as the father of modern scientific reasoning. When it comes to seafood sustainability, a lack of knowledge about what is truly at stake is a problem that impedes progress. Sustainability has become a buzzword for pop-environmental aficionados who often don't realize that there are real live men and women behind the seafood they demand and the sustainability they endorse. It is their lack of knowledge about efforts already underway that unfairly paints the seafood community as flat-footed and unresponsive.

Meanwhile, inside the seafood community there sometimes is a lack of knowledge about the need for creative thinking that threatens to leave parts of the industry vulnerable to the dangers of inertia.

It is ignorance on both sides that threaten species and livelihoods. Fish stocks are living, breathing, organic entities that grow, shrink and change. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to sustainability. Static cards and rigid lists are simply not the solution. New strategies and flexible thinking can create powerful solutions, but they need to be explored now to ensure that there is a later.

Perhaps catch shares would benefit some stocks and more robust aquaculture others, but it is the ideas that are yet to come that have the potential to be the most powerful. A lesser known quote from Francis Bacon reads like this, "a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."

The seafood community must make more opportunities for itself. The power that comes along with creative, flexible thinking will be a crucial element in facing seafood sustainability challenges.


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