Blue Star Blog

How Companies Can Work Towards Sustainable Development Goals While Remaining Profitable

Trade remains an essential economic vehicle in the world. But some economic development can lead to inequitable results and environmental issues. Development goals should consider all stakeholders and ecological factors. When they do, a more sustainable, equal, and more profitable world can emerge.

 

Blue Star Foods CEO John Keeler (Left) and UK Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite

As a private sector seafood company, we have a unique perspective on sustainable development goals. Blue Star Foods produces pasteurized crab meat in developing countries and trades in developed countries. We also work in a segment of the global economy (Small Scale Fisheries) that is both socially and environmentally sensitive.

Our CEO John Keeler and Philippines Sustainability Manager Josette Genio had the excellent opportunity to speak at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and reflect on the positive work we are doing. Blue Star Foods CEO John Keeler spoke alongside Roberto Azevedo (Director-General of the WTO), Julian Braithwaite (Permanent Representative, Mission of the UK to the WTO), Pamela Coke-Hamilton (Division on International Trade & Commodities for United Nations Conference on trade development), and Frank Mwe-di Malila (Ministre du Tourism, RD Congo); moderated by Eduardo Galvez (Permanent Representative, Mission of Chile to the WTO).

Blue Star’s fishery improvement projects parallel the United Nations and World Trade Organizations sustainable development goals (SDGs). Blue Star’s goals tackle SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and also goals SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), among others. The following points describe our path towards sustainable development in the Blue Swimming Crab fishery. We hope these pillars can become the catalyst of change across global industries. By ensuring social inclusivity, enabling support systems, and utilizing affordable technologies, we continue economic growth while working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

1. Ensuring Social Inclusivity

One of our sustainability goals is to create a more equitable crab fishery. Providing long-term economic benefits to all stakeholders improves social conditions. Equitable fisheries are a requirement for developing sustainable fisheries and tackling environmental degradation.

Rewarding sustainable business and reducing barriers to trade requires the participation of all stakeholders. Participating stakeholders can have a collaborative dialogue between crab fishers, local government, non-profits, and processors. Blue Star Foods does this via fishing cooperatives and community outreach campaigns. By understanding all shareholders within a supply chain, we can design programs that address both social and environmental concerns.

2. Enabling Support Systems

Support systems can alleviate pain points in the sustainable development of supply chains. Maximizing government support systems can allow long-term solutions to less-empowered individuals within complex supply chains. One way we work with government is via group registration drives. By leading group registration efforts, we are able to reduce the registration cost for the crab fishers drastically. Once registered, fishers can receive better government support like fuel and fishing gear subsidies, and calamity insurance. Fishers also have increased access to government and non-government programs.

Another way to enable support systems is through private and non-profit solutions. Blue Star does this via fisher cooperatives. Cooperatives shield low-income harvesters from predatory loans by offering microfinancing at low rates. They also enable fishers to create a savings account from a percentage of their profits. In 2017, Blue Star Foods teamed up with conservation finance firm Wilderness Markets to form one of the first blue swimming crab harvester cooperatives in Indonesia.

When government, business, and non-profits work together to overcome barriers within any trade, everybody benefits. This results in parallel prices and better profits for both harvesters and processors, and ultimately better prices for consumers.

Rewarding sustainable business and reducing barriers to trade requires the participation of all stakeholders. Participating stakeholders can have a collaborative dialogue between crab fishers, local government, non-profits, and processors. Blue Star Foods does this via fishing cooperatives and community outreach campaigns. By understanding all shareholders within a supply chain, we can design programs that address both social and environmental concerns.

3. Utilizing Technology

Technological innovation is playing a critical role in helping achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.

At Blue Star, we believe that traceability and transparency is a cornerstone of sustainability. That is why we developed our cloud-based traceability application that tracks the movement of seafood from the point of harvest up to the point of sale. Data enumerators can record and upload raw data right from the data collection site. Boat routes can be tracked real-time using solar-enabled GPS. All pertinent information on the production side (fishers’ name, boat, gear, and fishing location) can be viewed by scanning the QR code using the Blue Star Foods application.

By using solar-enabled GPS technology and electronic catch data, we can improve the fishery and improve income and efficiency of our fishers. Our traceability application can deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing within our supply chain.

Conclusion

Speaking at the WTO about these issues and our solutions is a vital step in furthering improvement strategies across industries. While these steps have been our path forward towards a more sustainable fishery, we believe they can transcend across sectors. By ensuring social inclusivity, enabling public and private support systems, and utilizing technologies, we can move towards a sustainable future while maximizing profits.

Click here to learn more about Blue Star Foods and our sustainability efforts.

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