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Seafood Champions

Lindblad Expeditions - 2007 Seafood Champion

Lindblad Expeditions logoAs a small-ship tour operator, it seems only natural that Lindblad Expeditions would be interested in protecting the marine environment. The following is a profile about the company, including its philosophy to ocean conservation and the connection between what is happening in the ocean to the seafood LEX purchases.

Lindblad Expeditions (LEX) has a longstanding tradition of supporting conservation work in all of the areas it operates. This has included a variety of support for NGOs such as the Blue Ocean Institute, Alaska Whale Foundation, Oceanites, and Marine Stewardship Council. The most recent partnership is with is MarViva, a non-profit working to protect the marine resources in the 'marine corridor' that includes Las Perlas, Coiba, Cocos Islands and the Galapagos Islands. We created the Galapagos Conservation Fund and the Baja Forever (Gulf of California Conservation Fund) programs to help funnel guest support into conservation activities.

LEX strives to serve flavorful, succulent seafood for its guests while supporting conservation solutions to help restore living abundance to the world's oceans. Its “No Shrimp” policy has been part of our operating practice since 2001, and the Seafood for Thought program broadly applies the company's philosophy to internal operations. While we’ve always had a sense of the marine issues involved with seafood, 2005 represented a tipping point, when we more clearly heard the voices of ocean conservation speaking to the dire state of the seas. We then decided we to have a broader, more comprehensive policy in place which ultimately lead to the development of Seafood for Thought.

There is at least one seafood entrée every day; some days 90% of guests might select the seafood choice. LEX's chefs are always most excited to serve fish that has been caught and purchased directly from local fishermen.

Lindblad Expeditions ensures its seafood offerings are carefully selected not only for flavor, but also for the best fishing practices. The company's purchasing policy for seafood is integrated into the Seafood for Thought program. LEX gathers information on available species and fishing/aquaculture practices in the operating areas of its vessels, and then works closely with the Blue Ocean Institute and other organizations such as Seafood Choices Alliance, as well as its own naturalists, to assess sustainability. The company's suppliers are asked where the catch came from, and by what method. LEX chefs then ascertain which types of seafood work within the framework of their menus and make exceptional offerings for guests.

The most promising aspect about today's seafood marketplace, says LEX, is that its guests are beginning to ask the tough questions about seafood onboard and at home. This drives up the demand for sustainable seafood, which creates incentive for sustainable options and heightens societal awareness fisheries management. The most challenging aspect about the current seafood marketplace for LEX is a lack of information on fisheries outside of the U.S. and the homogenization of the seafood supply.

Lindblad Expeditions has removed a wide-range of items from the menu because of concerns about the species or practice used to harvest the species. This has had significant impact on the variety of seafood it serves onboard and the chefs have certainly stepped up to embrace that challenge. LEX removed shrimp from its fleet menus in August 2001, for example. This decision was based on lack of a supply of verifiably sustainable shrimp that did not involve destructive shrimp-farming operations or trawling. Work with Blue Ocean Institute has pointed LEX to many options it wouldn’t have otherwise thought about and brought more attention to really “green” options.

Many guests are shocked when we present them information about the status of the oceans, notes the company. At the same time many are equally encouraged by the actions it has taken and return home inspired. Guests are informed about the Seafood for Thought program through a variety of means. Onboard presentations sometimes focus on the status of ocean fisheries, “Seafood Briefs” provide pictures and information about the seafood being served to guests, and general information about seafood sustainability is provided on bulletin boards and guest directories. Lastly, Blue Ocean Instittue’s Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood is also distributed to guests.

Lindblad’s website states, “In revealing a selection of the world's wild places to inquisitive people, Lindblad hopes that those places will be better preserved for future generations.” Can you provide some tangible examples of how the company is helping preserve/restore the ocean environment?

Aside from the purchasing side and influencing the marketplace by creating demand for sustainably caught seafood, LEX's greatest example of how it helps to preserve/restore the ocean is by educating guests about seafood as wildlife and their interconnectedness wherever they live to the ocean. Obviously, direct support of conservation is working to help preserve/restore the ocean environment in many ways. For example, the Galapagos Conservation Fund has helped to support enforcement of marine protected areas in that region.

What does being a Seafood Champion mean to your company?

“It is an honor to receive this award. We care deeply about the seas we travel on and finding creative ways to improve our stewardship of the ocean is a never-ending challenge,” says Sven Olof Lindblad, Lindblad Expeditions' president and CEO. “We are privileged to have guests who also care and appreciate what we can collectively do to make a difference.”

Receiving an award outside of the realm of travel and tourism is extremely rewarding. Being selected as a Seafood Champion means that Lindblad Expeditions is demonstrating to other companies and individuals that serving sustainable seafood can be done well and that LEX has the opportunity to broadly influence the marketplace by connecting guests to the ocean on many levels. It is an acknowledgement that LEX is ultimately preserving the vast beauty and diversity of the ocean.

About Lindblad Expeditions:

Founded by Sven-Olof Lindblad in 1979, Lindblad Expeditions (LEX) was originally established as a division of Lindblad Travel, which was launched in 1958. Over the years, LEX has earned a reputation for creating expeditions that are as eye-opening and inspiring as they are comfortable and fun. The company takes intimate groups to out-of-the-way places on small expedition ships that nose into ports and call on islands where cruise ships simply cannot go. LEX's distinguished roster of Expedition Leaders (EL) and Naturalists are experts in their field with a passion for uncovering - and interpreting - the mysteries of nature and history.

96 Morton Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10014

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