Partner Profile: Bill Herzig of Darden Restaurants

Bill Herzig, Senior VP of Purchasing & Supply Chain Innovation, Darden Restaurants

Bill Herzig has a passion for what he calls the “wonders of the sea.”

“I grew up near the coast.  My father was a dentist but he also loved to fish.  Many of the happiest days of my childhood were spent at the seashore” says Herzig.  Today he’s the Senior Vice President of Purchasing and Supply Chain Innovation at Darden Restaurants which include the popular Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains.

“The seafood purchasing side came naturally to me and that goes hand-in-hand with supply chain sustainability.”

When he first arrived at Darden Restaurants 15 years ago, he found a company that already had a proven record as an industry leader in sustainability efforts.  In the 1970s and early 1980s, then -president  Joe Lee coordinated a team to collaborate with the United Nations on the Law of the Seas Treaty which was designed to protect the world’s oceans and marine life from overfishing.

“We have to make choices about the areas where we can have the broadest positive impact; areas where we are an industry leader and play a positive role.”

One of those areas was the Atlantic lobster fishery.  Darden is the largest buyer of the lobster processed in New Brunswick (lobster which is caught in the Maritime provinces and Maine) and is a leading buyer of live lobster from the Northeastern United States and into Atlantic Canada.

“A number of years ago we saw challenges that were causing lobster fishermen a lot of hardship.  It was clear that there was a lot more that needed to be done to understand the science of lobster and sustainability.”

Herzig and his longtime friend Charles Anastasia from Orion Seafoods International discussed some of the challenges they were seeing during a trip to Newfoundland.  They also began discussions with then Minister of Fisheries Rick Doucet and the idea of the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation began to take shape.

As a founding partner, Darden Restaurants not only invested $200,000 in seed money to help establish the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation but members of their executive team have been made available to contribute to the Foundation’s work. It’s  all part of the company’s overall commitment to sustainability which includes investing in similar work in other seafood sectors as well as progressive approaches to water and energy conservation.

“It’s a really principle-based company,” says Herzig. “If we engage in a supply chain that has challenges and we can do something positive to help with those challenges then we should.”

Herzig says the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation is headed in the right direction because it’s multi-stakeholder. Issues are seen through fishermen’s eyes, through government’s eyes, from the processor and market perspective.  Then the choices about the investments the foundation makes are based on the broadest possible impact.

“In the early days Jan Spinney did a marvelous job and now we really appreciate that Rick Doucet is our Executive Director.  He’s an advocate for the fishermen and for industry who also brings political stature and capability.”

“We all have a real passion for lobster fishermen, for the lobster industry.   If you can sustain the species, you can sustain the fishermen’s livelihood and sustain the overall industry.”

The ALSF scholarship program

In July, the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation hosted a two-day science workshop. In addition to learning about the research we have funded and identifying research priorities going forward, stakeholders also recommended that the Foundation establish a scholarship program to invest in future lobster researchers.

In response to this recommendation we have established a new graduate scholarship program to support talented Masters and PhD candidates.  This year we intend to award two Masters level scholarships each valued at $10,000 per year for two years and one PhD level scholarship valued at $10,000 per year for three years.

Funding these scholarships supports the primary goal of the ALSF to promote and support applied research and related activities to preserve, restore and enhance the lobster stocks, their habitats and ecosystems.  Applicants’ work should support one or more of the four research priorities (link to science theme blog post) outlined by stakeholders at the July symposium.

These scholarships will help ensure that the Foundation continues to support work that is science-based and future-focused and ultimately benefits all stakeholders: fishermen, processors, buyers and consumers.”

Application Criteria

The Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation graduate scholarships are open to full-time students in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Maine.  Forms can be obtained on the ALSF website on the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation at www.lobstersustainability.ca   and should be accompanied by a maximum of four pages outlining: 1) Objectives of their thesis, 2) Background information, 3) Proposed methods, 4) Relevance of the work and 5) Qualifications of the applicant, including an academic transcript.

The deadline for applications will be December 15.

 

Our Research Priorities

At the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation our goal is to invest in the research that will help protect and replenish Atlantic lobster stocks and ensure the sustainability of this resource for years to come.   Projects we have invested in so far have looked at lobster health, the value of artificial habitats and the economic benefits of lobster seeding.

In July a broad cross-section of stakeholders met for the first Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation science workshop.  During the workshop we heard the results of some of the projects funded by the Foundation and we also held discussions to identify the research priorities going forward.

In order to ensure that the research we fund meets the needs of our stakeholders, we’ve identified the following four research priorities.

Lobster enhancement

  • Measuring survival of hatchery-reared larvae once they are released into the wild and comparing with natural survival of wild stocks.
  • Determining if artificial reefs serve to attract lobsters or to produce more lobsters by improving survival.
  • Measuring effects of diet on survival and growth of hatchery-reared larvae.
  • Measuring health of larvae in terms of both their survival and their potential impact for contaminating wild stocks.
  • Priority is given to large-scale studies that measure survival over the normal range of a lobster’s benthic life history and long-term studies that measure survival for up to two generations.
  • Priority is given to initiatives that integrate, coordinate and rationalize lobster enhancement projects throughout the Atlantic coast.

Indicators of lobster sustainability

  • Monitoring the abundance, recruitment,  growth, age, maturity and health of lobster.
  • Examining the inter-relationships or connectivity among lobster stocks.
  • Priority would be given to studies that integrate information throughout the natural range of lobster.

Environmental impacts

  • Examining the impact of contaminants and other sources of pollution on the survival and growth of lobster.
  • Examining the impact of large-scale events such as acidification, temperature change, ocean currents and coastal erosion on the survival and growth of lobster.
  • Examining the impact of the lobster fishery on the ecosystem, such as the origin and health of bait and the entanglement of endangered species in lobster gear.

Socio-economic aspects of sustainability

  • Measuring the ecological footprint or conduct life- cycle analyses of the lobster fishery.
  • Examining the consequences of lobster enhancement on coastal communities.

Are you pursuing lobster research? More information on research project funding and the work of the foundation can be found on our website: www.lobstersustainability.ca

What we do

In our region of Atlantic Canada and the Northeastern United States, the lobster fishery is an important part of our seafood sector and our coastal communities.   We need to ensure that the industry is strong and competitive for our fishermen and processors not only today but for the future.  At the same time, global pressures such as rising population, concern for our ecosystems and a rising consumer interest in and demand for sustainable food products are changing the way we look at food.

Historically lobster catches are at the same levels as they’ve been since we started keeping records 120 years ago. A lot of the practices around lobster fishing have naturally made it more sustainable and less prone to stock depletion crises that other fisheries have experienced. But we believe that through research and innovation we can do even better.  If we can get lobsters into the water at a developmental stage and in habitats that improve their chance of survival, we can further replenish our stocks – and that is where the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation and their partners come in.

In 2009, the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation was formed to promote and support applied research and related activities to preserve, restore, and enhance the lobster resources, their habitats and ecosystems; with the objective of advancing the health and sustainability of the resource.

Or to put it in its simplest terms: We support the three Rs: Research, Replenish, Results.

We believe that we are all custodians of the resource and its habitat. The responsibility for our future is in the palm of our hands.

On this blog we plan to give you a closer look at the research and projects we support and how we hope it will benefit the lobster harvesters, processors and consumers themselves.

Who we are

The Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation is a non-profit organization, supported by public/private funding, dedicated to preserving and enhancing a viable, strong, and sustainable lobster industry.

Our objective is to sponsor and promote scientific research, and its application, on lobster stock and habitat enhancement. Our efforts will support a robust, stable, and self-sufficient industry that will provide long-term economically viable opportunities for all levels of stakeholders and their communities.