Fisheries are critical to economic livelihood and food security in the Pacific. Inshore fisheries provide the primary or secondary source of income for up to 50 percent of Pacific households (SPC 2015). Government, business, civil society, and international partners must work together to ensure sustainable management of marine resources for current and future generations. When the U.S. Department of State learned about the Fish 2.0 competition, we took the bait. We are proud to be sponsors of an effort that supports sustainable seafood businesses by linking them to global networks of experts and investors.
Fish 2.0 is a year-long competition conducted online, so that seafood businesses anywhere in the world can participate. During the competition, each business receives feedback from expert judges, and competitors also take part in webinars that provide additional knowledge building on topics such as winning investment, legal fundamentals, and working with large scale buyers. The competition has four phases, and finalists have a unique opportunity to present their business ideas to a broad range of investors and supply-chain partners who are interested in seafood and can help their businesses grow.
In 2015, the U.S. State Department sponsored the Fish 2.0 competition in the Pacific Islands, and the results were outstanding. I had the pleasure of meeting the first group of Pacific competitors at a Fish 2.0 workshop in Nadi, Fiji. At the workshop, 30 aspiring entrepreneurs learned critical business skills, how to create a growth plan, develop a company vision, and work with global investors—all with a unique focus on sustainability and impact. In that year’s competition, five Pacific businesses advanced to the final round to pitch their businesses against competitors from around the world. The Pacific Islands’ impressive showing demonstrated the region’s commitment to sustainability and strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Bhan Singh of Pacific Fishing Company Limited, based in Suva, Fiji, had a positive experience as a 2015 Fish 2.0 finalist. After pitching at the finals, Singh launched into discussions with a prospective buyer of a new product that is currently in development. Singh also won a Fish 2.0 capacity-building prize that enabled him to identify some of the issues and bottlenecks his company faced and improve its productivity. “Fish 2.0 definitely helped us re-think the business,” Singh said. “Social responsibility and sustainability is a big part of the process of Fish 2.0 and it gave me a lot of insights and inspired me to think business from a different dynamic.”