One key way Finless works to embody our mission—to create a future for seafood where the ocean thrives—is by regularly seeking guidance from our first-of-its-kind Impact Advisory Board, which is made up of three respected subject-matter experts from the ocean conservation and seafood communities who represent different experiences, views, and backgrounds.
In late November, we brought our Impact Advisory Board together for a 3-day workshop in Napa, CA. The board members joined our strategy team and our executive leadership team, including Chief Executive Officer Michael Selden, Chief Innovation Officer Brian Wyras, Chief Strategy Officer Shannon Consentino-Roush, and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Coyle, to explore how Finless can maximize our ocean impact as we continue to grow in 2023.
The workshop kicked off with a tour of our pilot facility in Emeryville, CA, where Impact Advisory Board members donned lab coats and joined Chief Innovation Officer Brian Wyras who gave us an incredibly informative tour of our new food lab. This is where the magic happens!
After the tour, the board traveled to Napa, where the Finless strategy and executive leadership teams presented a year-in-review overview of Finless’ growth, successes, and impact during 2022. That presentation included updates to the Finless team, which has grown to more than 50 people and includes new positions like Head of Manufacturing and Facilities and Director of Tissue Engineering, the successful market launch of our plant-based tuna, and Finless’ thought leadership at conferences around the world.
Next, we kicked off a workshop session that focused on what we mean when we say we are working towards a “thriving ocean” and how specifically Finless will work towards that goal. We discussed sustainability goals for 2023, which will span our facility manufacturing, lab practices, and supply chain management. These goals will align with the FAIRR & GFI Alternative Proteins ESG Reporting Framework, a first-of-its kind framework for alternative meat, seafood, eggs and dairy companies to reveal their climate, biodiversity, nutrition, and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts. We also discussed draft impact metrics that will allow us to measure our sustainability and impact progress.
On the final day of the workshop, we discussed future species selection for both our cell-cultured and plant-based products. We drew on the board members’ ocean conservation and seafood expertise to work through draft sustainability criteria that will help us ensure we properly consider sustainability when selecting new species for Finless products. The Impact Advisory Board helped us narrow our scope to focus on cultivating a handful of high impact species in the near future.
We did, of course, take advantage of the workshop location to enjoy some of Napa’s great wine and food with our board members. Our discussions around sustainability and impact started each day in a conference room and continued during sustainable winery wine tastings and excellent farm-to-table meals. A great balance of thoughtful discussion and great company made for another successful Impact Advisory Board meeting, and we all left the workshop excited for what Finless will accomplish in 2023 as we continue to work towards our mission.
Meet our Impact Advisory Board:
Dick Jones is the CEO of Blue Ocean Mariculture, currently the only open-ocean fish aquaculture company in the U.S. His passion for the ocean started very early in life and his diverse career includes 14 years overseeing seafood operations at Whole Foods Market and HEB Grocery. Over the past 12 years, Dick has been a leader in the non-profit sector and is a co-founder of Sea Pact and founding trustee of ThinkAqua. He has served as a Director or Advisor to several organizations, including the California Salmon Council, Aquaculture Certification Council, Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, World Resources Institute, Fair Trade USA, and Ocean Outcomes.
Dr. John N. (“Jack”) Kittinger is the Senior Director of the Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program in Conservation International’s Center for Oceans and a Professor of Practice in Arizona State University’s Global Futures Laboratory and School of Sustainability. Under his leadership, CI works to protect biodiversity and improve the wellbeing of ocean-dependent communities by implementing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture solutions built on partnerships and investments from ocean to plate. A lifelong surfer, fisherman, and waterman, he is committed to ocean-based learning experiences and to being in the water as often as possible. Dr. Jack Kittinger and his family currently live in Niu Valley, Oahu, Hawaii.
Michael Sutton, an internationally respected leader in environmental conservation, is the Executive Director of the Goldman Environmental Foundation. Before his role at the Foundation, Sutton received a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology and Law Degree in International and Natural Resources Law. After his studies, Sutton served several leadership roles in conservation, such as National Park Ranger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agent, President of the California Fish & Game Commission, Professor of Natural Resources Law, and Author of Ocean & Coastal Law and Policy. He also launched the first WWF Endangered Seas Campaign, conserved wild salmon at the Wild Salmon Center, founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and much more. Michael resides in Carmel Valley, California where his passion for preservation continues through managing nonprofit organizations, influencing public policy, advocating for environmental protection, and guiding successful philanthropic efforts.