History of SeaWeb
SeaWeb was created by The Pew Charitable Trusts in 1995 and originally called the Marine Conservation Initiative. One of its earliest activities involved conducting the first public opinion poll in the U.S. on attitudes towards ocean conservation and to survey the marine conservation community to help determine their views on what is needed to raise the profile of this issue. The Marine Conservation Initiative changed its name to SeaWeb, opened an office in Washington, D.C and began the process to become a independent organization in 1996. During that year SeaWeb started writing and distributing "Ocean Update", a newsletter that today reaches thousands of policy makers, journalists and concerned citizens and that focuses on the latest developments with regard to ocean health, including breakthrough scientific work and major actions and policy efforts aimed at promoting ocean health. SeaWeb also began tracking all articles dealing with the causes and effects of ocean and coastal environmental change, and today continues to review more than 700 scientific journals and makes the information publically available. SeaWeb distributes weekly listings of the top articles in its "Marine Science Review" e-newsletter. In 1998, SeaWeb and NRDC launched the "Give Swordfish a Break" campaign, the first communications effort to mobilize chefs and consumers in support of stronger protection for a single species, the North Atlantic swordfish. In 1999, SeaWeb officially became recognized as an independent IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
In 2000 SeaWeb, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and NRDC launched the "Caviar Emptor" campaign to protect endangered Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon and to point U.S. consumers toward sustainable, farmed caviars as an alternative. That same year, SeaWeb launched its Asia Pacific Program by conducting a comprehensive communications training at the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium in Bali. SeaWeb continues to provide media and communications support to the ICRS for their major convening. With its partners Island Press, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a group of leading marine scientists, SeaWeb helped to create the Communications Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS). In 2001, SeaWeb launched the Seafood Choices Alliance to promote sustainable seafood and drive large-scale purchasing towards more ocean-friendly choices. The Seafood Choices Alliance hosted its first annual Seafood Summit in 2002; the only event of its kind that unites conservation leaders with seafood industry professionals to discuss the latest trends, science, policy and markets for sustainable seafood. In 2004, SeaWeb worked with philanthropist/photographer Wolcott Henry and Green Media Toolshed to bring the Marine Photobank (MPB) to SeaWeb. Today the program houses more than 5,000 marine conservation images and has grown to over 7,000 members. Those members use MPB images to reach millions of people worldwide each year to help raise ocean awareness and they appear in textbooks, publications, scientific papers, educational materials and presentations, news stories and websites. Also in 2004, SeaWeb's Seafood Choices program hosted its first International Seafood Summit in Chicago.
In 2005, the United States banned beluga caviar imports from Caspian Sea nations after they failed to provide evidence of improved conservation plans for beluga sturgeon, marking a significant victory for the Caviar Emptor campaign. To address the shift in trade from the US to Europe, SeaWeb launched its L´Autre Caviar campaign promoting sustainable caviar consumption in France, and opened its first international office in Paris, expanding to London the following year. By January 2006 the United Nation's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned global trade of all wild caviar, including Caspian Sea caviar, because of unsustainable fishing levels. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy and M?lama Hawai'i, SeaWeb created the Fair Catch campaign in 2006 to help restore Hawaii's nearshore ocean by encouraging responsible fishing practices, policy changes that banned the use of lay gill nets, increased fisheries enforcment, scientific monitoring and public participation and education. The campaign successfully mobilized native Hawaiians and fishers to lead the way in preserving this isolated and fragile part of the ocean. Also in 2006, SeaWeb's KidSafe Seafood program was launched. From 2006-2010 SeaWeb ran an Ecosystem-based Management (EBM) Communications Project in response to the needs of governments, ocean and coastal industries, academic researchers and local communities as they incorporated an EBM framework into their work to sustainably manage the ocean and its resources. Through polling, focus groups, and training workshops SeaWeb engaged different stakeholders, such as commercial fishers, aquaculturists, alternative energy companies, port authorities and harbor masters, coastal residents, coastal planners, federal agency representatives, coastal state agency representatives and fisheries managers to help ensure that this new management framework was utilized effectively to drive smart decision making and resource management. SeaWeb also produced materials, such as Trade-Off! (a Marine Spatial Planning board game) and Talking About a Sea Change: A Guide to Communicating About Ecosystem-based Management that are still utilized today. In 2008, SeaWeb launched its Too Precious to Wear campaign, which worked with jewlrey and décor professionals to use environmentally friendly alternatives to coral in their designs. Also that year, the Marine Photobank launched its first annual Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest.
In 2011, SeaWeb was pleased to announce the dates and location for the 10th International Seafood Summit. The Seafood Summit is the world's premier sustainable seafood event that brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussions, presentations and networking around the issue of sustainable seafood. The goal of the Summit is to foster dialogue and partnerships that lead to a seafood marketplace that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The Summit, which has traditionally been held in Europe and North America, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Hong Kong, marking the first time the event will be held in Asia. In 2012, SeaWeb launched its first social marketing campaign in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to end littering in LaoLao Bay, Saipan.
SeaWeb continues to actively pursue new opportunities and connections in order to communicate ocean issues more effectively and shift the way people interact with the ocean.