It is always heartening to read about companies trying to improve the state of the world’s fisheries and thereby ocean ecosystems. Latest in the line-up of pro-ocean establishments is the Darden Restaurant chain that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
At the Clinton Global Initiative‘s (CGI) seventh annual meeting last week, the Darden company formally announced its three-year commitment to rebuilding troubled fisheries through Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs). The initial FIPs will be in the Gulf of Mexico in partnership with Publix Super Markets and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).
CGI’s Commitments to Action program encourages members to propose concrete ideas to address global challenges. Darden’s submission, entitled “Catalyzing Industry to Rebuild World Fisheries,” was chosen for its approach to addressing challenges in the environment and energy sector as well as commitments to combat illegal fishing, enhance productivity and reduce negative ecological impact.
Jim Cannon, CEO said: “As one of the largest buyers of seafood in the world, Darden is an industry leader in supporting healthy ecosystems for future generations. Through this commitment, Darden is taking action to create change within the seafood supply chain by building alliances with governments, conservation advocates, and communities to develop and implement fishery improvement. We hope others will look at what Darden has achieved and committed to, and as a result, take action.”
Darden hopes to create an alliance of companies, NGOs and other groups to support fishery improvement projects. This group will then commitment themselves to addressing the various issues that have an impact on global seafood supply. Darden has also co-founded the Global Aquaculture Alliance to promote aquaculture best practices. They are also partnering with the New England Aquarium to provide data regarding wild-capture fish and aquaculture species. They are also working in the Caribbean and Canadian fisheries to enhance lobster stocks as well as ensuring a sustainable livelihood for fishermen.
The necessity to protect the oceans of the world is not just conservation of valuable ecosystems. From Walmart to McDonald’s companies are putting their money where their mouth is to ensure that their customers get the best in sustainable seafood. They have also begun to realize that there is an economic incentive that goes with ensuring a sustainable seafood supply. The kind of partnership promoted by Darden is essential because it gets the work done faster – fisheries improvement and seafood sustainability requires a lot more from the food industry and it is always good to read about new efforts.