BALTIMORE — The National Aquarium announced today the establishment of the National Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Program, with a gift from the Dana DiCarlo and Scott Plank Family Foundation and their urban development company, War Horse.
As part of the sustainable seafood program, the Aquarium will develop enhanced education programs to help people better understand their seafood options. It will also work to expand those choices through partnerships that link local fishermen to local markets, improve opportunities for restaurants to serve local seafood and explore enhancement opportunities associated with sustainable local aquaculture.
The National Aquarium connects with more than 1.3 million guests per year in support of its mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. In addition, Aquarium supporters are able to participate in conservation activities, work with policymakers and be a part of a community that is engaged in building awareness of issues affecting ocean health, including the importance of sustainable seafood sources.
Plank has been a National Aquarium board member since 2008. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board and also serves on the strategic planning committee.
“I was honored to be asked by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli to take part in the long-term strategy of our organization. Understanding seafood choices and making good buying decisions emerged as important ways for our visitors to advance watershed and ocean conservation by supporting local and sustainable fisheries with their family meals. The sustainable seafood program came from our discussions,” said Plank of his inspiration for partnering. “The National Aquarium’s siting on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is daily motivation to act locally within our own Chesapeake Bay watershed and to think nationally and globally, driving our mission. Food production is a function of abundant clean water. Farming, raising livestock and abundance of native fish, crabs and oysters all depend on sustainable cultivation within our national watersheds.”
The endowment will fund the startup of the program. The Aquarium is now accepting resumes for the National Aquarium’s Director of Sustainable Seafood, who will develop, implement and lead the program, at aqua.org/jobs.
“We are excited to be undertaking this important program and appreciative of this generous investment,” said Eric Schwaab, Senior Vice President and Chief Conservation Officer for the National Aquarium. “Connecting people in the region to local, sustainable seafood is good for our community, good for our oceans and a great way to get people to think about our role in addressing ocean challenges and opportunities. This program will also directly complement renewed national attention to sustainable seafood and improved traceability.”
Through a focused effort to build an integrated, local sustainable seafood program, those in the Chesapeake Bay community will be at the forefront of a national movement to protect the quality of local waters, support sustainable seafood production, reduce dependence on imported seafood and enjoy increased health benefits. Increasing local sourcing also improves seafood traceability, enabling vigilant consumers to make informed choices with confidence in the authenticity, origin, quality and sustainability of the seafood they eat. The National Aquarium aspires to be a leader in conservation efforts, specifically around combatting mislabeling, seafood fraud and the entry of black market, non-sustainable fish into our restaurants and markets.
Long-term goals for the program, through future funding, are to develop and implement a “buy local” aquaculture and help to explore how aquaculture will fit into Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch program going forward.