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The Promise of Alternative Seafood

By Michael Sutton – Impact Board Member. on May 20, 2021 / Op-Ed

With the rising eco (and ocean) consciousness, there is a greater awareness than ever of the major challenges facing our ocean. From climate change to plastic pollution and the mounting pressure on global fisheries, our critical ocean resources are at risk. This doesn’t just threaten those whose livelihoods directly depend on the ocean’s resources, it affects every single one of us. While we can’t solve it all, Finless Foods is in the ring working hard to create an alternative source of seafood so our oceans can recover and thrive.

Today, both nationally and globally, we demand and continue to consume more and more seafood. The FAO’s 2030 projection forecasts that world fish consumption will be 18 percent or 28 million metric tons more than in 2018. And that’s understandable because seafood is delicious, nutritious, and contributes to fewer greenhouse gas emissions, on average, than land-based sources of animal protein. Because of this, wild-capture fishing and aquaculture represent hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide, and seafood accounts for 17 percent of all animal protein consumed globally, and could represent up to 25 percent by 2050. But the ocean, as vast as it is, is a finite resource, and how we supply this growing demand for seafood matters – for us, the ocean, and the planet. At Finless Foods, we believe that providing alternative sources to meet consumer needs will alleviate pressure on the ocean and ensure fishermen, fish farmers, coastal communities, and our ecosystems can thrive for generations to come.

Currently, only 6.2 percent of our wild-caught fisheries globally have room for growth, with the other 93.8 percent either sustainably or overfished, which means that we can’t take many more fish out of the ocean sustainably. Since the 1990s, fish farming (aquaculture) has grown exponentially, with innovation and technology developing at rapid speed, in an effort to meet the growing seafood demand. Despite this, aquaculture faces its own limitations, including the fact that many highly sought after species, such as tuna, still cannot be successfully farmed at scale. This leaves us all fighting over slices of a large, but ultimately finite or diminishing pie. 

So, with increasing stress on the ocean from environmental factors, a finite supply of sustainable, well-managed fisheries, and ever-growing demand, especially for species like tuna, the question is: how can we enjoy more healthy and delicious seafood while also protecting our ocean and coastal communities? 

Our answer: You bake a bigger pie.

At Finless Foods, we’re creating tasty and versatile cell-cultured and plant-based alternatives for wild-caught tuna and eventually other species. Not only does this supply an additional source of tuna to reduce the pressure on global tuna stocks, but soon everyone will be able to enjoy popular seafood dishes such as poke and sushi without worry, knowing that they are both good for us and good for the ocean. 

We sum this up as a holistic approach to seafood, where all sustainable and responsible sources of seafood, including wild-caught, farm-raised, cell-cultured, and plant-based alternatives play their parts in creating a future where the ocean thrives. Whether you’re a sushi-lover, vegetarian, pescatarian, meat-eater, wild-caught champion, farm-raised seafood fanatic, or just someone who likes variety in their diet, everyone is welcome at this table.

Importantly, we see our cell-cultured and plant-based products as complementary to the current landscape of wild-caught and farm-raised seafood products. We aspire to empower consumer choice and flexibility by providing options with a variety of nutritional and environmental benefits so everyone can feel good about what they eat, and its impact on our ocean. Our cell-cultured product allows you to enjoy bluefin tuna without worrying about depleting the oceans, and our plant-based tuna provides a delicious alternative for a meat-free meal. In short, you are able to eat a seafood dish that celebrates everything you want, while letting go of everything you don’t.

We created these “Finless” foods to achieve our vision for a future where we live and dine in harmony with the ocean and the planet. With solutions like Finless Foods, the greatest challenge may not be about how much the ocean can give, but instead, how much you can eat! 

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credit: Logan Mock-Bunting

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