Case Study: Florida Sustainable Seafood

This is a story about those who appreciate the abundance that Florida
offers and are passionate about sustaining it.

Florida’s Sustainability – It’s All Connected.

Great story telling is about connecting with and engaging an audience so they feel part of the experience – capturing authentic moments and creating sustaining impressions.

This is a story about integrating the many layers of sustainability and shining a light on how they are all connected. We’ll highlight the value of Florida culture, heritage, local resources and the natural environment through the lens of sustainability.

Ed Chiles is known as one of the innovative restaurateurs on the Gulf Coast of Florida. His restaurants are pioneers in the sustainable tourism industry, setting the bar with their constellation of sustainable practices, products and projects. He is also a leader in developing the Gulf Coast’s sustainable seafood economy as an economic engine and promoting full utilization of sustainable seafood through the Gulf Coast Heritage Seafood Project.

High quality seafood produced in an environmentally sustainable fashion can boost coastal economies, preserve and strengthen working waterfronts, improve coastal water quality and habitats and encourage the development of a domestic aquaculture industry capable of reducing existing trade deficits.

Our story highlight best practices and models that can be recreated in similar environments. The economic value of Florida’s natural and cultural heritage has never been more important. Please join us and become our partner in spreading the news.


“It’s All About The Food” — The Chiles Restaurant Group

  • The restaurants have become a pioneer in the sustainable tourism industry, setting the bar with their constellation of sustainable practices, products and projects.
  • Locally sourced and Sustainable Menus
  • Locavore Movement – Local Food

Restaurateur Ed Chiles is passionate about raising the bar
and spreading the word about sustainable practices in Florida.

Heritage Seafood Project — Interview Karen Bell, Owner Star Fish Company Market and Restaurant

  • Cortez Fishing Village – Preserve working waterfront
  • Change Cortez business model from commodity model where they’re selling everything on the spot market, to a value added based model

Wild Sustainable Seafood — Valuing our Heritage

  • Rebrand Grey Striped Mullet as the delicious healthy fish it is
  • Sunray Venus Clams — native clam which has never been raised commercially; 3 to 1 meat to shell ratio, sweet, tender

Big Picture of Seafood Consumption and Production Worldwide

  • 92% of the seafood we consume in the US is imported
  • 50% of that is aquaculture
  • 0nly 1% of the aquaculture is being grown in America

The west coast of Florida is the only place in the country that has three National Estuary Programs on its boundaries; Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, and Charlotte Harbor. The Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to Port Charlotte offers a unique environment for a diversity of bivalve species.

Grey Striped Mullet

Sunray Venus Clams

The Opportunity — Bivalve Aquaculture Interview Curt Hemmel, Owner Bay Shellfish Company

  • Ground zero for producing clams: favorable water quality and temperature, nutrient levels, etc
  • Additional benefit is the ecological services (natural capital) that bivalves provide: uptake of excess primary production, cleaner water, better light penetration, increased seagrass growth
  • Each organism filters 10 gallons of water per day; promotes benthic environment, Seagrasses return
  • Bay Shellfish Company owner Curt Hemmel is one of the foremost bivalve experts in the world; propagating the spawns for bivalves; grows 60% of spat for the Eastern seaboard
  • All submerged coastal land is state owned; There are more than 280,000 acres of approved shellfish harvesting area in Florida and only 2,250 acres currently leased. That’s a lot of untapped potential.

Gulf Shellfish Institute, Inc (GSI) — Established 2015, Research for Sustainable Aquaculture & Healthy Ecosystems

  • Mission: to facilitate, support and encourage increased production of shellfish in Florida and the Gulf region for both economic and environmental benefit through cooperative, industry-driven research and outreach.

Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Project — Interview Robert Baugh, COO Chiles Restaurant Group

  • Two major components are oyster shell recycling and community-based restoration
  • By working together, community members and biologists can restore oyster populations while enhancing habitat for fish, shrimp, and crabs, and improving water quality of estuarine areas


Clam seeds for aquaculture

Oyster shell recycling