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Thursday, 12 June 2014

We’d love to hear about why the ocean is important to you, tweet or Instagram your ideas using the hashtag #WOD

June 8th was World Oceans Day

Can Richard Branson and Virgin make a difference?
Fish 2.0: Connecting fishermen and investors

The fishing industry is evolving; for most fisherman, knowing how to catch is no longer enough. New regulations, growing demand from consumers to know where their food comes from, rising fuel prices, and increasing globalisation have changed the business dynamic of fishing. At the same time, with many fisheries in decline, fishermen must develop new ways to fish without depleting the resource on which they depend. They must innovate to survive. To be successful, they need to focus on developing their businesses as well as fishing.

This new reality for fishermen is one that is familiar to me. I had experienced problems associated with understanding only the science, and not the business, side of growing a resource-based enterprise during the early part of my career. At the time, I was working in a marine science job with a venture capital funded company focused on creating pharmaceuticals from unusual marine organisms. Though our research team successfully found useful organisms, the company went bankrupt in just two years.

The management could not satisfy the investors – even though the results looked promising. Frustrated, I went to business school to learn how to better manage scientific organisations like the one I had worked for.

At business school, I learned that each element of business, whether finance, marketing or strategy, has its own language, and that there are common rules to follow, no matter what the business or where it is in the world. As in all languages, the art is in how you adapt and combine all of the elements in different contexts and situations.

After finishing school, I tried to apply my knowledge of this new language to ocean sustainability – where too few people in science, conservation, and small scale fisheries spoke it. Along the way, I met many fishermen and fish farmers who were working to build innovative enterprises. Most were frustrated by their interactions with the investors they approached for support. They felt unable to build the trust, relationships and knowledge needed to work together. Conversations with investors were short and led nowhere.

After several years of writing business plans for some of these emerging fishing businesses, I realised that I could not meet the growing demand.

To make an impact on the ocean, I needed to solve the problem at its root: investors and fishermen needed to learn each other’s languages, so they could communicate effectively and directly.


I developed Fish 2.0 to bridge this language gap. I kept the platform simple – a business competition for sustainable seafood. Under its umbrella as a competition, Fish 2.0 connects entrepreneurs, investors, and sector experts.