Questions & Answers

In November 2016, a meeting and dialogue took place in the Maldives. What was this meeting about?

The meeting was a dialogue which gathered the largest actors within the different segments of the seafood industry to meet and explore sustainable pathways for the industry. It was based on SRC’s scientific work on identifying transnational corporations as keystone actors within the seafood industry and their role in addressing some of today’s most urgent sustainability issues confronting the world’s oceans. Only a handful of seafood corporations control 19-40% of some of the largest and most valuable stocks and 11-16 % of the global marine catch.

Why did you choose to hold the meeting in the Maldives?

The Soneva Foundation invited Stockholm Resilience Centre to host the dialogue at Soneva Fushi resort in the Maldives. Albeit a luxury resort, Soneva has a strong focus on sustainability as part of their business strategy and offered an excellent venue for creating the fundamental trust, informality and seclusion needed to stimulate a fruitful discussion. It provided the participants with the opportunity to step out of the more formal settings they are used to and made them connect to each other in a way otherwise difficult to facilitate. The meeting place also provided a “neutral ground” – between Europe, North America and East Asia (where the companies are based).

What makes these dialogues any different from similar initiatives out there?

Within seafood there has indeed been quite a few sustainability initiatives over the years but they have mainly been concentrated within each “segment” of seafood, such as salmon, tuna and other parts of the seafood system. This initiative has managed to bring together the leading companies within the global seafood industry, irrespective of segment in which they operate.

Why should people think this is nothing more than just a corporate PR project?

This is a long-term initiative facilitated by science. The initiative did not come from the companies themselves, but originated from research conducted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The scientists believe that the largest companies within the seafood industry have the capacity to lead a transformation towards a more sustainable and transparent business. This meeting was intended to test this idea and future meetings will define how concrete actions will be developed. This will inevitably take some time, but the future will show how it can complement efforts and actions developed by governments. This initiative will be supported by independent science, and it is up to the companies to live up to their joint commitments.

Who attended this meeting?

Representatives from eight of the world’s largest fisheries and aquaculture companies took part, including several CEOs. All attendees at the meeting:

Patron of the meeting

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Duchess of Västergötland.


Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Shivdasani, Co-Founders, Soneva Group and Soneva Foundation.

Dialogue Chair

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future.

Company representatives
Einar Wathne, PhD, Group Leader and President, Cargill Aqua Nutrition; Geir Molvik, CEO, Cermaq; Myoung Woo Lee, PhD, CEO, Dongwon Industries; Ole-Eirik Lerøy, Chairman of the Board, Mowi ASA; Knut Nesse, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, Nutreco; Toshiya Yabuki, General Manager, Aquaculture Business Promotion Office, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd; Shoji Kishi, Deputy General Manager of Overseas Strategy Department, Maruha Nichiro Corporation; Darian McBain, PhD, Global Director of Sustainability, Thai Union.

Jane Lubchenco, University Distinguished Professor, Oregon State University, Inaugural U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean, Department of State; Ambassador Magnus Robach, Ambassador of Sweden in Japan; Rupert Howes, Chief Executive, Marine Stewardship Council; Volker Kuntzsch, CEO, Sanford Limited.

Steering committee and secretariat
Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Professor, Stockholm University; Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future; Carl Folke, Professor; Science Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Henrik Österblom, Deputy Science Director and Senior Lecturer, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Bruce Bromley, Chief Financial Officer, Soneva Group; Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, PhD candidate, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Maria Padget, Soneva Dialogue Coordinator, Soneva.

What was the outcome of this meeting?

The most significant outcome was a joint statement recognizing the urgent need to strengthen the long-term sustainability of the ocean to support the global seafood industry – both wild fisheries and aquaculture. The statement commits the companies to action to reduce pressure on the marine environment starting with the creation of a new global initiative “Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship” to bring together leaders in science and business.

The companies commit to improving transparency and traceability and reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in signatory supply chains. Antibiotic use in aquaculture, greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution are also prioritized in the statement.

What will happen next?

A follow-up meeting will take place in Stockholm, Sweden in 2017. The ambition is that the joint effort and leadership by these keystone actors will influence the industry sector as a whole and shape future policies related to more sustainable seafood production. The meeting in Stockholm will consolidate this initiative and lead to the identification of more concrete steps and tangible collaboration between the respective companies.

The Soneva Dialogue was part of Stockholm Resilience Centre’s work on keystone actors and dialogues between them. What are the keystone dialogues?

The keystone dialogues are non-public, informal and trust-based meetings between scientists and the most powerful actors within an industry sector.

The purpose is to gather the largest actors within an industry sector and encourage collective actions towards a more science-based sustainable approach to business. Active leadership in sustainability initiatives by these corporations could result in a cascade through the entire industry towards improved management of living resources and ecosystems.

What do you mean by a “keystone actor”?

The word “keystone actor” is an analogy with the “keystone species” concept in ecology. Our science indicates that the largest companies in a given industry can operate similarly to keystone species in ecological communities, meaning that they can have a disproportionate effect on the structure and function of the system in which they operate. Keystone actors can be defined by the following characteristics:


  • they dominate global production revenues and volumes within a particular sector
  • control globally relevant segments of production
  • connect ecosystems globally through subsidiaries
  • influence global governance processes and institutions
Who organises the dialogues?

The dialogues are organised by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) at Stockholm University. SRC is an international research centre looking at ways to improve our governance and management of social-ecological systems to secure ecosystem services for human wellbeing and resilience for long-term sustainability. It is an acknowledged partner in the bridging between science, policy and business. Each keystone dialogue is organised in collaboration with relevant partners. HRH. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden acted as Patron for the first dialogue. Forum for the Future (FFTF) supported the dialogue, including chairing the meeting. The Soneva Foundation generously hosted the meeting and all participants and provided additional crucial support in organising the event.”

Why are the meetings not public events?

The purpose is to create the best possible atmosphere for fruitful and open discussions. Any agreed outcome from the dialogues, however, will be presented on the keystone dialogues website: