What is Industry Lab? Why are context and the people in the room so important for the goals we aim to achieve? Well, we think “context”—the perfect, concise distillation of the challenge under discussion—is the foundation for lively and candid discussion. And if you invite the right, diverse group of people to show up, an event becomes organically dynamic. Frankly, there are too many boring conferences stuffed full of four-speaker lecture panels and not enough events that energize and open new paths to change. The latter is Industry Lab.
Industry Lab is a chance for those who rarely or never share a table to connect with each other in a productive way. Past grudges and disagreements are set aside to make room for new ways of thinking. And personal biases are held in check to provide an opening for optimistic thinking. At our gatherings, self-employed fishers share lunch with government policy makers and chefs hang out with software developers who work to trace the seafood supply chain. It’s a group that would not have met without us, which is the truest definition of our brand of hosting.
After four cities, 11 panels, and 294 industry lab attendees, the Sustainable Seafood Week 2015 series came to a close with the final industry lab at the iconic Newseum in Washington, D.C. Attendees brought expertise from careers in government, at major NGOs, as chefs, as farmers, and as fishers. Each city has provided us with a unique lens through which to view sustainable seafood innovation, and Washington, D.C. was no different.
Holding Industry Lab in D.C. meant more political and NGO perspectives in the room; reminding the entire group to consider long-standing governmental regulations when examining potential solutions. The day was full of expert panels, fireside chats, and engaging discussion aimed at addressing critical topics in sustainable seafood and focused on the economic challenges and opportunities for aquaculture in the Mid-Atlantic region.
First we heard from the chefs. Barton Seaver and Spike Gjerde, two men who work at the intersection of food and sustainable seafood, have valuable perspectives on the state of industry innovation. And then we heard from the politicians. Russell Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries at NOAA shared his experience tackling traceability with the IUU Taskforce and Dr. Michael Rubino, also from NOAA, provided an overview of the politics of aquaculture policy, engaging with the group to acknowledge current gaps and how they can be overcome in the future.
Panelist Steve Vilnit, Director of Marketing and Business Development at JJ McDonnell and Co., had this to say in favor of a focus on traceability. “Sustainability is subjective. There are multiple definitions. Traceability is black and white.” Keith Flett’s panel on collaboration for supply chain improvements was followed by a World Café style group brainstorm aimed at tackling the complexities of seafood traceability.
The week also featured a Dine Out Program during which 18 restaurants from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area served featured dishes and spoke with diners about sustainability and food. Luke’s Lobster hosted a lobster workshop where participants enjoyed grilled lobster tails with ancho chili butter while hearing about how the restaurant supports Maine lobster fisheries by buying directly from lobstermen.
Thank you to all who contributed to make this program a success. And a special thank you to our national sponsors: Whole Foods, Taylor Shellfish Farms, and Sea to Table for your support. We look forward to continuing the conversations during Sustainable Seafood Week 2016.
Sustainable Seafood Week doesn’t have to end when we leave your city. Triple Pundit is hosting live webinar discussions about sustainable seafood throughout October and November. Stay tuned for the next one or watch the recaps here.
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By the Numbers:
- 4 cities
- 3 new fish dresses
- 11 panels at Industry Lab
- 168 restaurant participants in our Dine Out Program
- 294 Industry Lab attendees
- Over 1800 oysters enjoyed at SSW Gala and Happy Hour events
- 1517 tweets and over 5 million impressions generated by our livestream at all four Industry Labs. Check out the #industrylabSSW for more twitter conversations.