About the Seafood Co-Lab – Speaking of Seafood

Seafood Co-Lab

Community-Supported Solutions in the Seafood Industry


The Need

The sustainable seafood movement has grown profoundly in scope and impact over the past decade; but innovative and collaborative cross-sector solutions to global fisheries challenges have not kept pace with the speed of business.
To be effective, we must create new tools to engage new stakeholders.


The Idea

Incubate new, cross-sector collaborations that generate innovative solutions to ongoing or emerging challenges within the sustainable seafood movement via an annual event that stimulates engagement, raises awareness, and generates concrete solutions at the project level.


The Opportunity

SeaWeb and the Conservation Alliance are uniquely positioned to identify challenges in sustainable seafood that will benefit from a collaborative response, and to tap into the expertise of individual leaders and the collective knowledge of the broader movement to address those challenges.


The seafood community has a long track record of working to solve sustainability challenges. Your organization can build on this by joining Co-Lab as a resource or through a sponsorship.



The Seafood Co-Lab is an annual competition where the seafood industry invests in practical and innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. Winners are chosen by the seafood community and receive a financial reward as well as logistical and technical support to implement their idea.

1. Identify Collaborations

Reach out to the broader seafood community soliciting collaborative teams to submit projects for the Co-Lab. Teams must include more than one sector (seafood industry, government, academia, nonprofit).

2. Tell the Stories

Identify a set of four teams to move on to finalist stage. Finalists will be chosen by the Co-Lab’s Advisory Board of seafood experts based on criteria including potential impact of the project.

3. Community Voting

Conduct a highly public voting process that highlights issues and solutions, and culminates at Seafood Expo North America, where the winning project will be announced at the end of the show.

4. Crowdsource Support

At the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, the winning team publicly presents their challenge and obtains support and input from the broader seafood community and experts brought by SeaWeb.


The winning team is supported throughout their 10-month work phase by subject-matter experts and the Advisory Board. Project results are presented to the seafood community at the following Seafood Summit.



Engaging New Stakeholders

Broadening the participation of partners and innovators in the sustainable seafood movement to include new geographies and new sectors is important to extending the reach of our impact and increasing our effectiveness at making seafood more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.

A truly sustainable seafood industry starts and ends with the stakeholders. Taken together, the seafood community has the knowledge and power to revolutionize how seafood is sourced and distributed. The key is engagement of both the agents of change and the sectors that need to change. The Co-Lab is designed to capture the attention both sides of the equation. Innovators have a unique opportunity to float their best ideas through the proposal process and to support change by contributing their expertise to projects. New stakeholders have an easy entry point through the voting process that highlights sustainability concepts through compelling stories.


Supporting collaboration at the project level

The complexity of sustainable seafood challenges more often than not requires a collaborative approach; because collaboration is not always the first choice or easiest path forward, the Seafood Co-Lab steps in to incentivize use of cross-sector, cross-organization/industry cooperation to solve specific challenges.

There are a number of programs that provide professional support to individuals. Co-Lab is different in that it provides professional support not to individuals, but to projects that apply the innovative power of cross-sector collaboration to specific sustainability challenges.


Telling the stories, engaging the community

The Co-Lab competition offers a great opportunity to highlight sustainability stories throughout the supply chain and around the world. After a set of four compelling and competitive projects are selected as finalists by the Advisory Board, a strategic communications campaign will launch to promote the competition and urge stakeholders to vote for the winner. With competing teams telling their stories as part of actively soliciting their communities for votes, Co-Lab can reach, engage, and educate entirely new audiences.


Putting our best resources to work

As we work to engage new stakeholders and advance more collaboration to improve the sustainable seafood movement’s impact, we will connect our existing leaders and innovators with Co-Lab candidates throughout the process.

The Conservation Alliance and SeaWeb Communications have extensive networks of partners and key stakeholders in sustainable seafood whose expertise and experience can be a rich resource for addressing challenges in sustainable seafood. Through the Co-Lab, we will create a public forum for exchanging ideas and solutions where anyone with expertise can contribute, whether they work in seafood or parallel technologies.



Collaboration is a leadership challenge. Unless leaders at the executive level understand and embrace the need for collaboration, you’ll never be able to drive related organisational change through the ’tough spots.’ – Chris Ninnes, Aquaculture Stewardship Council


We need something that puts us in the mindset of businesses. We desperately need to pick up the pace to keep up with the speed of business. – Jenn Dianto Kemmerly, Monterey Bay Aquarium


This is model is fantastic. I see it driving much greater collaborative change than anything else out there right now. – Guy Dean, Albion Farms & Fisheries



In 2016, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions tasked their Fellowship cohort with originating fresh ideas for how to tackle hurdles to sustainability. The year-long project culminated in a marathon brainstorming retreat, where the Fellows came up with the “Co-Lab” concept. The idea was to harness the power of collaboration in projects that deliver hands-on solutions at a speed that keeps pace with business. The Seafood Co-Lab’s unique cross-sectoral approach is designed to stimulate “outside of the box” thinking by requiring participants to cross-pollinate ideas with smart folks outside of their usual professional silo.


2018 Timeline

(Subject to change)

December 15, 2017 – January 25, 2018 Submissions open
March 11-12, 2018 Public voting at Seafood Expo North America in Boston; Winner announced at end of second day
June 19-21, 2018 Collab-a-thon at the Summit
July 2018 – Winners’ project work starts
April 2019 – Project final report due
June 2019 – Project report-out at Summit


Program overview

The goal of the Co-Lab is to support collaborative projects supported by both industry and civil society, to engage stakeholders and find innovative solutions. Each competition will include these steps:

  1. Reach out to the broader seafood community to solicit potential projects for the Co-Lab
  2. Identify a set of four finalists through an Advisory Board
  3. Conduct a highly advertised public voting process that culminates with the winner’s announcement
  4. Identify experts to support the winning project and create a resource for the seafood community
  5. Present the project at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, and crowdsource expertise from attendees
  6. Support the winning project throughout its development via facilitated conference calls with expert collaborators
  7. Present results to the seafood community


Launch and call for proposals

Co-Lab will draw on lessons learned from the Seafood Summit and use a combination of structured and crowdsourced requests for proposals, starting with solicited proposals and following with open submissions. All submissions will be gathered via an online form.


Selecting finalists

Prior to Seafood Expo North America, the Co-Lab Advisory Board will identify four projects to advance to public voting. These will be chosen based on:

  • Importance and urgency of issue the project addresses
  • Potential for measurable, verifiable successful outcome
  • Ability to cross-pollinate with upcoming Summit issues and themes
  • Business and communications value to the seafood industry


Voting for the winner

In the months leading up to Seafood Expo North America, Co-Lab will conduct an extensive communications and outreach campaign promoting the finalists’ stories and encouraging the seafood community to vote via an online form. Following a final media and outreach blitz at SENA, voting will close and the winning project will be announced at Seafood Expo North America.


Supporting the collaboration

Once the winning project is selected at SENA, Co-Lab will focus on providing a framework that supports creation of a high-performing project team.

In the period between SENA and the Seafood Summit, SeaWeb and partners will identify a broad spectrum of subject experts who can support the winning project and will work to ensure they and an equally broad spectrum of potential collaborators attend the Summit.

On day one of the Summit, the winning project will be featured, followed by a series of networking and brainstorming opportunities devoted to the project. By the end of the Summit, the goal is to have a framework in place that identifies:

  • Key members and advisors to the collaboration
  • Mission & goals statement
  • Metrics for success
  • Rough timeline


Delivering results to the community

Throughout a 10-month period following the Seafood Summit, Co-Lab will continue to support the winning project by facilitating conference calls with subject matter experts and tracking progress. At the end of the project, Co-Lab will arrange for the results to be presented at the Summit or an equivalent venue and widely communicated to the seafood community.



The following organizations are demonstrating the seafood industry’s ongoing commitment to a responsible and sustainable seafood marketplace by supporting Seafood Co-Lab as Sponsors.

Austalis – The Better Fish
Norpac – Fisheries Export
Tequesta Bay
Mook Sea Farm
Organic Ocean
Global Ghost Gear Initiative
Sea Pact
Fish Choice
Sea Delight
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation