Pacific Bigeye tuna and component parts. Illustration by Adi Khen, courtesy of Fishful Future.

Fishful Future: A New Collaborative Community Project to Move San Diego Toward a Zero Waste Seafood Supply Chain

February 9, 2021 — SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The following was released by Fishful Future:

The Fishful Future project is a newly launched collaborative effort joining seafood processors, fishery scientists, local fishermen, and renowned chefs. Supported by an award from the competitive National Marine Fisheries Service’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program, the project explores opportunities for San Diego’s fishing, seafood processing, and culinary industries to move toward a zero-waste seafood supply chain by fully using each fish.

Around 50 percent of each fish by weight generally remains after processing for the fillet market. This half of the fish is often discarded, or sold for cents on the pound, despite the valuable proteins and nutrients contained for a wide range of applications.

To encourage the use of the entire fish, the team explores the value in each part. The Fishful Future project addresses local food security by empowering home chefs to prepare less familiar secondary cuts with culturally diverse recipes, partnering with community groups in food insecure areas, and working with project chefs to develop new restaurant presentations.

The project also brings together entrepreneurs from a broad range of businesses in a new collective approach to increase sustainability by using what is currently considered to be waste. Seafood processing byproducts find valuable applications in bait, fertilizer, pet foods, bio-pharmaceutical, bio-medical, and artistic fields.

“More complete use of the fish means greater economic value and opportunity for fishermen, processors, and everyone who enjoys seafood,” said Dave Rudie, Catalina Offshore Products founder and president. “We owe it to the fish and to our customers to make the most complete use of each fish that is taken out of the ocean.”

Leading the culinary approaches are four San Diego chefs: Davin Waite, Karen Barnett, Christina Ng, and Rob Ruiz. These chefs are not only vocal, active contributors in their community but also wildly creative, committed to respecting their ingredients, and embody the goals of the project in their cookery and daily lives.

The multidisciplinary team is led by Catalina Offshore Products and scientists at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, with partners including the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, the Port of San Diego, Iceland’s Ocean Cluster, and Oregon State University’s Seafood Research & Education Center.

“The only way we can succeed is by doing this together,” said Sarah Mesnick, from NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center, who is a scientific advisor in the effort. “All partners in the seafood and product supply chain bring their own expertise and experience to the project, so that together we look at these valuable species in a new, holistic, and more sustainable way.”

Inquiries are welcome from parties interested in joining this effort toward a Fishful Future. Learn more by visiting and following along on Instagram @fishfulfuture.


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