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.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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