Fish for Dinner – With a Side of Awareness

Upcoming celebration highlights sustainable seafood leadership

On the same docks that made San Diego a commercial fishing mecca decades ago now reside businesses like the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, where local fisherpeople sell their sustainable catch directly to consumers, putting a face behind the fish. Restaurants are noticing the value in fresh, local, and sustainable seafood and are acting accordingly. And driving momentum in the sustainable seafood movement is a growing partnership among the fishing industry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California Sea Grant, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Every year, Scripps hosts Fishing for the Future, a celebration of sustainable seafood through both a culinary and educational event. Local chefs, suppliers, and scientists at Scripps and NOAA, and fishermen, come together to showcase the bounty found right off of shores and tell the story of the management of fish stocks and the importance of sustainability for both the ocean and people. 

“Seafood offers us all one of our closest connections to the ocean,” said Stuart Sandin, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Oceanography. “This event offers an opportunity to explore the ocean through this lens of seafood.”

“Our region is one of the most exciting places to be in terms of seafood,” said Theresa Talley, a researcher with California Sea Grant and Scripps Oceanography. “We’ve got a long and interesting fishing heritage dating back at least 7,000 years. We’ve got some of the most progressive fishermen and responsibly managed fisheries in the world. And, we have exceptionally talented, world class chefs and adventurous seafood lovers who all care about sustainability.”  

This year, the event will evolve into a virtual experience due to the global pandemic. On January 28, Fishing for the Future will be divided into a two-part event: the first, registration-required reception will will include a three-course meal featuring sustainable fish sourced from San Diego fishermen provided by The Fishery in San Diego’s Pacific Beach neighborhood (guests can pick up their order in advance), and a welcome from Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. After the reception, guests and the public are invited to a live-streamed event featuring a short documentary focused on seafood availability in San Diego, produced by Salty Cinema, and Q&A session with renowned experts in global sustainable seafood including scientists, policy makers, advocates, and supply chain specialists. Salty Cinema is a Scripps-led group of filmmakers, alumni, and scientists who work to showcase research in marine conservation. 

Panelists for the Q&A include: Bren Smith, Executive Director of GreenWave and owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm, who pioneered the development of regenerative ocean farming; David Price, Vice President of Omnichannel Initiatives and Social & Environmental Responsibility at PriceSmart Inc., the largest operator of retail warehouse clubs in Central America, the Caribbean, and Colombia; Ian Urbina, former investigative reporter for the New York Times, and the director of The Outlaw Ocean Project, a non-profit journalism organization based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on reporting about environmental, labor and human rights crimes at sea; Sara McDonald, Senior Fisheries Scientist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program where she leads the assessments of tuna fisheries and the work on bycatch; and Veta Wade is an award-winning Caribbean based ocean advocate, recognized as a leader on marine conservation issues within the Caribbean through her non-profit organization Fish ‘N Fins Inc.

Fishing for the Future is held in support of the new Marine Conservation and Technology Facility at Scripps, which will house the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, whose primary goal is to create solutions for a sustainable ocean and prosperous global society. This new facility, expected to be complete in Spring 2022, will become a hub for sustainable seafood research, featuring an experimental test kitchen, where seafood innovators and students alike will get hands-on experience learning about and preparing local fish and shellfish. 

In addition to the test kitchen, the Marine Conservation and Technology Facility will have modern classroom facilities which will enable the development of novel training programs in ocean stewardship for both undergraduate and graduate students as well as occasional courses for the public. Teaching spaces will include a 100-seat lecture hall, and 2 class laboratories, one for teaching with live organisms and one for teaching with chemicals. The facility will have 11 research laboratories and a state-of-the-art data visualization laboratory to integrate novel data sources. The basement of the research building will be almost entirely devoted to a saltwater research aquarium facilities with three temperatures of seawater, cold (7ºC), ambient, and warm (25ºC), allowing scientists to do research on organisms from widely differing habitats, local to deep sea, arctic to coral reefs, and perform controlled experiments to understand how we can not only predict changes due to climate change, but be able to mitigate them.

“The future of the ocean will be defined by the actions that we all take in the years ahead,” said Sandin. “Our new building will serve as a hub for exploration and learning, creating the knowledge needed to create the tomorrow that we want.”

"The new facility at Scripps will serve as a model for training the next generation to think more holistically about decisions that affect our oceans and our people," said Talley. "Needed are more facilities like this, which bridge gaps that traditionally exist between fisheries, ocean science, food systems, and human dimensions in order to overcome some of the biggest challenges of our time, including climate change impacts and food insecurity." 

To register for the paid portion of the event and learn more about the live Q&A, please visit the event’s website


About Scripps Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.

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