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Finless Foods Gathers Ocean Experts to Drive Impact

By Shannon Cosentino-Roush on August 27, 2021

As a mission-driven company, Finless Foods has created a first-of-its-kind Impact Board to serve as a brain trust of ocean and sustainable seafood experts that inform Finless’ forward-looking business strategy, from product pipeline to stakeholder engagement. Last week, Finless brought our Impact Board together for an inaugural 3-day workshop in San Francisco, CA to answer key questions to drive Finless forward and maximize our positive impact for a thriving ocean as we continue to grow. 

Our Impact Board is made up of three respected subject matter experts and veterans from the ocean conservation and seafood communities, representing differing experiences, views, and backgrounds. Mike Sutton helped create the Marine Stewardship Council and has spent over 30 years working with companies, fishermen, and conservation groups to create and foster the sustainable seafood movement. Dick Jones comes from a long line of seafood industry experts in his family and oversaw seafood operations at Whole Foods Market and HEB Grocery. Jack Kittinger has helped establish and currently leads Conservation International’s Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program and is an esteemed Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s Global Futures Laboratory and School of Sustainability.

Over the course of three days, the Impact Board brainstormed and worked closely with Finless’ executive leadership team, including Finless’ CEO, Michael Selden, and Chief Strategy Officer, Shannon Cosentino-Roush, in addition to Finless’ key partners for government affairs, PR, and communications, and food business. The meeting kicked off by laying the groundwork and presenting a year-in-review through a ‘State of FInless Foods’ presentation. 

Following this, we dove deep into how to best use the Impact Board to support Finless in working with and representing this innovative and evolving industry to lead the way forward on responsible seafood alternatives.

Next, we convened an entire session to strategize Finless’ next steps in expanding its product pipeline, with potential for impact as the central consideration. Finless started with bluefin tuna as its first species because of the historic decline of the global stocks and ever-increasing demand for these highly-prized fish. Our vision is to help supply this demand with our cell-cultured bluefin tuna so that we can give consumers options to satisfy their cravings, while also helping reduce the pressure on our global fisheries, in support of a thriving and biodiverse ocean.  We’re striving to achieve a similar impact thesis with our next products as well. 

Given the importance and complexity of this task, one of the biggest outcomes of our workshop was to identify our species and strategic markets short-list, something that only was achievable due to the various and diverse experts in the room.

Beyond the substance, we wrapped up the workshop by taking the opportunity to capture, in video interviews, our Impact Board’s unique insights about Finless, alternative seafood, and the ocean. But the workshop wouldn’t have been complete without a team trip down to the water for some quick (and fun) team shots.   

When the time came for goodbyes and wrapping up the 3-days of deep conversations (stories and laughs), everyone left the meeting feeling extremely energized and inspired by the potential and opportunity of what we’re doing together as Finless Foods. We are looking forward to continuing to deepen our collaboration with our Impact Board as we integrate their thought leadership and experience into our day-to-day decision-making and forward-looking business strategies – all to achieve our mission of creating a future for seafood where the ocean thrives.

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.

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