Childhood Love of Fish Feeds Seafood Executive's Passion for Sustainability
By Paul Shively
Logan Kock knows what it's like to depend on the ocean for sustenance. A few years after graduate school, he set off on a voyage from Japan to San Francisco in a 30-foot sailboat with almost nothing but the wind and water to sustain him.
"During that whole sailing thing, you are a subsistence fisherman," Kock said of his two-year journey, which also took him to numerous South Pacific islands. "You aren't near any stores. You don't have any money. So you fish all of the time."
Today, in his role as chief sustainability officer for Santa Monica Seafood Co., he works with people and communities around the globe whose livelihoods depend on the sea. These personal and professional experiences have led to his commitment to sustainable fishing practices, including the use of deep-set buoy gear to catch swordfish. Research shows this gear allows fishermen to more accurately target swordfish while minimizing harm to whales, dolphins and other sensitive species.
This deep appreciation of fish and fishing dates back to his childhood. "My grandmother gave me a fish tank with guppies when I was a boy," Kock said. "They were pregnant and had babies. And I was hooked." His grandmother also made sure he learned to sail during his Connecticut childhood, sealing his fascination with the ocean.
A young Logan Kock runs along the beach in Boca Grande, Florida, in 1956. His grandmother instilled a love of fish and oceans in him when he was a child.Logan Kock
Kock's passion for sea life quickly became more than a recreational interest. His first job was as a conch diver when he was 15. Later, he and a couple of college friends supported a yearlong Caribbean sailing trip by catching fish and selling them from port to port.
He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from New England College and his master's degree, also in biology, from the University of Guam. He then worked for the Guam Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, doing everything from seagrass research to counts of coral reef fish before setting off on his transoceanic sailing adventure in 1982.
Since returning to the U.S. mainland, Kock has learned every aspect of the seafood business. His career included owning restaurants and overseeing seafood standards at a Fortune 500 company before he joined Santa Monica Seafood in 2001.
Kock on deck during his yearlong Caribbean sailing trip with college friends, during which they supported themselves by catching and selling fish.Logan Kock
Today, Kock said deep-set buoy gear is the most environmentally sustainable way of catching swordfish. The gear uses a hook-and-buoy system that enables fishermen to drop their hooks as deep as 1,200 feet, and, when a bite-indicator buoy is activated, respond within minutes to bring the fish to the boat or release it alive if it is not a swordfish or other marketable species. This gear has been tested extensively over the past six years by scientists and cooperating fishermen, with minimal bycatch of nontarget species.
"In my mind, it's clearly a situation where the purchase of a deep-set buoy gear-caught swordfish opens up a new approach to fishing," he said. "It does it in an ecologically sound way. And it's more personal. I can have a one-on-one relationship with a deep-set buoy gear boat captain."
Such familiarity is key, Kock said, because "it's important to connect customers to individual fishermen. It's an ethical thing: Utilize whatever you take from the sea in a way that pays reverence to the animal, the individual who caught it, and the community around him."
Buoy-caught swordfish also stand apart from other swordfish because of their superior quality. "When you think about it, you are catching one fish at a time and you can pay attention and provide individual care to each fish," Kock said. "You aren't dealing with a whole netful. Also, it's the depth that the swordfish is pulled from and the fact that it's alive when it reaches the boat."
That pays off in higher-quality swordfish that demand top prices. "We're providing our customers something pretty amazing," Kock said. "People are willing to pay a premium, and so it's a viable business."
Paul Shively directs Pacific Ocean conservation campaigns for The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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