As Director of the National Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Program, TJ Tate is responsible for the development of enhanced education programs to help people better understand their seafood options, and works 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 Sustainable Seafood Program strives to place the Chesapeake Bay community at the forefront of a national movement to protect the quality of local waters, improve opportunities for restaurants to serve local seafood and explore enhancement opportunities associated with sustainable local aquaculture. The National Aquarium was able to establish the program in 2014 with a gift from the J.S. Plank and D.M. DiCarlo Family Foundation and the urban development company, War Horse LLC.
Tate comes to National Aquarium from St. Augustine, FL where she served as the Director of Sustainability for Gulf Wild, a nonprofit organization and program of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance whose mission is to engage and empower the branding of seafood sustainability and fishery conservation in the Gulf of Mexico by inspiring positive change from the fishermen to the end consumer.
Why is it so important to eat sustainably?
Food security, plain and simple. We are a world growing in population by leaps and bounds. Think about it this way: We take care of our cars so that they will run to 200,00-plus miles. We go to the doctor so that our bodies stay strong and can push the limits of time. We watch our bank accounts so that we can pay our bills, take vacations and someday retire. We ensure that the things that matter are secure and sustaining. Food is no different. We have to plan and adapt real food strategies and become very smart when it comes to what we eat.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of this program?
The National Aquarium has thought leaders, scientists, communicators, and dedicated and loyal members. We are a destination for millions of people who love the ocean. The development of a seafood initiative is a natural and logical progression that in my estimation is a way of giving back to an area so steeped in seafood culture and history. People embrace seafood in this region - we should, and will, be the leader to hear their voices and answer the questions.
What kind of educational outreach will be involved?
The potential educational benefits to the program are limitless. We are already reaching to local chefs, seafood distributors and schools. We are planning a series of local regional events that will teach the general public about not only this vast ecosystem in which they live but also how their actions have a direct impact on their seafood choices.
Will you be partnering with any organizations?
We are teaming up with Maryland Sea Grant on educational opportunities, aquariums throughout the country on national seafood efforts, Maryland DNR on fisheries issues, government agencies on seafood traceability standards, local watermen, chefs and environmental groups, to name a few.
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