Posts by Wild Salmon Cove

Transparency & Corruption 2020

Part 3 of a 4 part series … Read Part 1Part 2

Our new normal, VALUES TRANSPARENCY and eschews CORRUPTION … right?

Hmm, not so fast … Canadian fisheries are currently struggling under more than ONE murky controversy.

Allegations of corruption have simmered for decades, and a few times over the last several years they’ve also raged – today’s Mi’kmaq Indigenous assaults are making headlines around the world. Fisheries corruption is floating like flotsam in the middle of the pandemic, and an upcoming election.

When an industry is lean and struggling, it’s easier to see its bones, and weaknesses.

Canadian DFO scientist, Dr. Kristi Miller-Saunders, who holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University, told news media, AGAIN, that her government employer is misstating scientific facts about open-net fish farms.

She made similar allegations in 2011.

The good doctor Kristi has worked for the DFO for 25 years and is a well-respected scientist. She has warned governments for several years about the dangers of open-net fish farms to oceans and sea life.

Maclean’s magazine also reported Dr. Miller-Saunders’ findings in 2017, in this article; “Unmuzzled government scientists are ready to talkfederal government scientists are bursting to discuss a lost decade. Ask them anything.”

Dr. Miller-Saunders was criticized then too by the open-net fish farm industry, as she still is today in a profit-driven effort to undermine her credibility. This time around her findings are being taken seriously, as evidenced in this damning and exclusive 2020 article from the Globe & Mail; “Scientist at DFO says Ottawa is too beholden to fish farms.”  

Quote: “A federal scientist has accused the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of underplaying the threat of open-net fish farms to Pacific salmon and too often acting in the interests of British Columbia’s profitable fish-farming industry.”

Here’s another quote from another article in MacLean’s magazine from 2011; “Science, one of the world’s top research journals, published Miller’s findings in January. The journal considered the work so significant it notified “over 7,400” journalists worldwide about Miller’s “Suffering Salmon” study.”

2020 Excerpt: Dr. Miller-Saunders said “Fisheries and Oceans appears to be bending over backward to help the open-net fish farm industry, which plays the dual role as regulator and industry advocate.”

Anyone ethical clearly knows that a dual role of “regulator and advocate” is a perfect breeding ground for corruption.

In 2011, when Dr. Miller-Saunders first rang the alarm, I was the Business Development & Communications Officer for the BC Salmon Marketing Council, and it was then that I also first began to voice my concern about the damage open-net fish farms have on oceans and sea life.

The doctor and I were not alone however; Many fishers and smaller processors, plus a handful of various specialists in the BC salmon industry were making the same allegations, and receiving extremely aggressive warnings from federal bureaucrats to immediately stop criticizing, or even mention open-net farmers in any capacity.

Fish farmers in Canada were fully protected by governments and completely off limits.

Wild fishers and processors were right stunned when we were muzzled because we thought we operated in a marketing arena like other industries where it was encouraged to be competitive.

The warning to me personally was clear; Stop criticizing and even talking about fish farms, or we will cut ALL of your government funding.

The gag order felt like an attack on democracydescribed by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1800s. “Tocqueville was acutely aware of the dangers posed by the rise, from within the heart of the new civil society, of capitalist manufacturing industry and a new social power group (an ‘aristocracy’, he called them) of industrial manufacturers, whose power of control over capital threatens the freedom and pluralism and equality so essential for democracy.”

Today, it isn’t only practitioners in fisheries, and legitimate news media companies who are warning governments about equality, ethics, and democracy respective of the environment and climate change.

Government are now warning themselves too, and ironically with little success.

In 2019, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered open-net pens out of the ocean on the west coast in BC. He wants them transitioned to land-based fish farms over the next several years. The reaction from open-net farmers was so severe the prime minister softened his directive considerably. His team still maintains though, that open-net pens have to be transitioned to either deep sea closed containment, or land-based aqua farms where the operations will be safer for oceans and sea life. The PM’s initial directive to move open-net pens to land-based operations within five years was too aggressive, and many of us spoke out against the severe timeline.

The question now – when?

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has also expressed concern over open-net fish farms and was unfairly attacked by an industry more concerned with protecting profits, than they are about oceans and sea life.

How is it that so many qualified people all over the world are calling for the end of an outmoded and destructive farming process, and yet governments balk?

Land-based aqua farming operations will employ the same number of staff, and in some cases even more than open-net operations, plus the skill level of some employees will rise considerably.

As Bob Chamberlin, of Wild Salmon Forever and former Chief of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis reports in a recent CBC article, “sea lice and viruses from farmed salmon are fatally infecting juvenile salmon as they swim through the narrow Discovery Islands. Consultation announcement is a good first step, but it should include First Nations on the Fraser River who depend on wild salmon.”

Open net fish farms negatively impact First Nations, while land-based RAS IMTA will improve the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous communities along Canada’s west coast.

Land-based RAS IMTA is a highly advanced high-tech business, and the complex technology is one big reason it intimidates most open-net farmers. They simply don’t have the skills, so instead they block evolution to an ecosystem that is better for oceans and sea life. They do it by creating confusion, and by attacking scientists who don’t support their agenda for profit.

Corruption is out of control in fisheries around the world, and it reaches across every sector.

For example; If you ordered a package of sockeye salmon from British Columbia, and somewhere along the way a handler covertly removed the expensive sockeye and replaced it with cheaper chum salmon, and everyone in the supply chain knew it was happening but hid it from you as the customer – what would you think?

What if Seafood Bait & Switch was a common occurrence?

Would you think collusion and corruption?

Unfortunately, Bait & Switch happens in the seafood business every day at an alarming rate of about 50%.

Can you imagine if this FAIL RATE happened in other sectors, like the auto industry or maybe pharmaceuticals? It continues to happen in fisheries because over many decades, governments have, in effect, partnered with powerful monopolies, and if they bust these oligarchs now, everyone goes down. Plato and Aristotle had the manifestations of political corruption figured out long ago.

You tell on me.
I tell on you.

Trapping inexperienced politicians who initially have good and ethical intent is a time-honoured tradition.

It’s seafood fraud and corruption, plain and simple, and if you think it’s a myth, watch this short clip to see where and how often seafood fraud and fisheries corruption occurs.

Another reason companies and governments get away with such blatant corruption is because we are all being fed confusing and FAKE information by disreputable companies and their supporting casts of manipulative public relations communicators. It’s not ethical of course, but it is legal.

Deceptive media companies would rather have you guess where their loyalties lie, forgive the pun, because then … they have more freedom to report only from their clients’ perspectives. Media companies that fail to clearly reveal their affiliations and bias lose trust and risk repercussion on social media.

Transparency = truth = trust

If a media publication has NEWS in their name, and for any reason they fail to deliver information in an UN-biased manner – they simply can’t be trusted, i.e., Fox News.

The DEFINITION of NEWS by Merriam Webster is: “a report of recent events”.

There is absolutely no mention of BIAS in Webster’s or anyone else’s descriptions, yet audiences have interpreted and expect the definition of news to mean: an “UN-BIASED” report of recent events. Audiences do it because they’ve been conditioned over many decades to think that way. Thankfully, traditions are changing as concepts evolve in the 2020 WOKE era.

Although fake news is nowhere near as bad as Trump claims, a disturbingly large number of “news” companies have agendas not based on truth.

Back in the day when audiences had slightly more trust in news media, we didn’t have social media or the internet to compare notes. It was almost impossible, unless you invested substantial time and money doing your own research to identify whether the information was accurate.

Professional media advisors, and I count myself as one for over two decades, have for many years trained ethical corporate executives and politicians how to manage manipulative news media. Starting in the late-nineties, I wrote and published CRISIS MEDIA business newsletters read by thousands of c-suite executives and high-profile politicians, including a dozen U.S. senators, plus hundreds of MBA students at Harvard Law School. It was a large part of my business for almost two decades, so consequently, as a media critic I’m familiar with all levels of Beat Reporting.

Today, technology delivers much of what we need to make good decisions for fisheries, and much of it is dependent on BIG DATA. It’s easier today for example to track and monitor a wide variety and large volume of data automatically using smart contracts managed by AI – artificial intelligence.

Blockchain on the distributed web is a powerful data tool that can be affordably managed on a small immutable enterprise. If you’re not familiar with this technology, you can catch up here…

I don’t want to be over-critical of BIASED ADVERTORIAL NEWS reporting because it serves an economic purpose for those directly involved – it’s a paycheck. Don’t however, mistake a real NEWS company for a blog – like this blog you’re reading now for example that openly, and ONLY promotes wild and land-based salmon enterprises. I don’t feign to be a news company.

Blogs should never pretend to be news. Companies, especially those with NEWS in their name, have a tacit and ethical obligation to be neutral. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.

The information in advertorial fake news publications often target specific industries – fisheries in our case. ECHO CHAMBER industry-information publications provide a platform for companies that struggle to win a mainstream audience, one reason being that their product might not appeal to the sensibilities of conscientious consumers – the #EthicalMajority, but there are many other reasons.

The tobacco industry was one of the first to develop ADVERTORIAL NEWS magazines, and over the years many other industries copied their covert strategies.

Regarding fisheries, some online publications on first inspection look like a traditional news magazine, but when you do a search on their website for “LAND-BASED” it delivers results that MOSTLY CRITICIZE the ethical solutions that the environmental world embraces – it’s a hint something is skewed.

For example, according to Sea West News, it seems that land-based aqua farming isn’t a scientific or economic process worth pursuing.

Is that what we expect from a real NEWS company?

The truth is that investors all over the world, including ironically, open-net farmers, are investing heavily in land-based RAS IMTA aqua farms. It’s the reality that some don’t want you to know, and if you listened to them, you’d be woefully misinformed and miss out on legitimate and important growth opportunities.

Below are headlines from Sea West News regarding Land-Based Aquaculture, 08/20; (based on a search on their site for “land-based”).

:: Study shows challenges facing land-based salmon farms in BC
:: Energy use, emissions will increase with land-based, but …
:: RAS in Peace: The quick and dead in land-based fish farming
:: Canadian owned land-based farm goes bankrupt

Are you getting the biased ECHO drift?

I get it … because in my world of environmentally-friendly fisheries, you either support a healthy ocean, or you don’t. There is no half-way.

During 9/11, President Bush said it even more clearly;
You’re either with us, or against us.

It’s that simple.

Respected fisheries NEWS companies look like this;
TheFishSiteSalmonBusinessHakai and many others.

John Paul Fraser, the executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association is quoted in a Sea West blog; “Using a full tool belt of methods, BC’s salmon farmers have made it a priority to monitor, and treat our farmed populations for SEA LICE in order to help reduce the likelihood of the sea lice spreading back to the wild populations”.

So my simple question is; Why would BC open-net pen salmon farmers need a “full tool belt of methods” to combat an environmental issue that they STEADFASTLY REFUSE TO ADMIT is a serious issue?  

It’s a simple question …

Here’s another simple question;

If industry publications are little more than echo chambers, why should readers be concerned?

Simple, it’s because still, most people in the fisheries and seafood industry, including consumers/seafood lovers, are confused about how news media really works. As a result, slick pseudo news organizations leverage this weakness.

Another challenge regarding echo chamber publications is that the pseudo specialists within them, who evangelize “their version of science” as gospel, quite often do not have an appropriate background. Spokespersons in such a sensitive and volatile industry, should ideally be at least trained to dispense information about critically related subjects like climate control and species extinction, especially when not even the most advanced scientists in the world are sure of the RISING TIDES outcome. We do know however, that open-net fish farms cause pollution, and that pollution of all kind raises the temperature of oceans.

It shouldn’t be a free-for-all of opinions for blogging interns or babysitting veterinarians with outdated degrees. When it comes to ocean health, we should err on the side of caution, but we all know it’s not the case.

Open-net pen fish farm workers for example are of course biased, and usually not trained or qualified to disseminate information on complex land-based aqua issues. It is however, easy to see why they feel personally threatened by a new RAS IMTA process that is so complicated they would have to go back to university to earn a more relevant degree in contemporary biotechnology to understand it. This type of bias is common, but it is rarely disclosed.  

It’s time to drop anchor on corruption.

Part 4 of a 4 part series is coming soon …

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organizations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.


Part 2 of a 4 part seriesRead Part 1

There are only two types of news media – trusted, and all the rest.

That’s a joke – not really though because it’s not funny when you’re being fooled.

PEW Research has proven for decades that most of us don’t trust news media, yet we base our decisions on information that news media promotes – somewhat of a conundrum.

Media confusion occurs because news audiences are cleverly influenced to believe that FAKE NEWS is real journalism. The challenge is that even when some of the information is true, how it is positioned can be deceptive.

Consequently, we always have to be cognizant of BIASa wild card slipped into the deck without anyone noticing. Bias isn’t inherently bad – it’s who we are as individuals … hidden bias however, is another story – literally.

Bias can also be an element of how we learn, and our belief systems. For example, each of us are influenced by our personal bias confirmation, which basically means we embrace information that supports what we currently believe, and we reject data that contradicts it. It’s faulty thinking, and unless you were cognoscente of this ingrained trait, you would have a very difficult time changing your mind about anything to which you are passionate. Beer companies like to establish loyalty even before consumers are of drinking age because they know that once you are hooked on their magic elixir, you’re probably hooked for life. Stanford University research discovered that we receive a jolt of the pleasure-drug, dopamine when we process information that supports our beliefs.

According to a Harvard study also described in The New Yorker, “Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.

Along with bias, we also have to contend with the “illusion of explanatory depth” which basically means; “People think they know more than they actually do.” When your employer tells you you’re doing the right thing the right way, and rewards you for it, it eventually becomes familiar phenomenon and your personal bias confirmation. What you think you know to be right, is whatever your boss tells you is correct. It’s doesn’t however, make it right. This is why it’s important to follow and align yourself with great leaders.

Here’s something your open-net boss is definitely wrong about though; When aqua farms move to land-based there will be just as many and in some cases even more jobs for local communities. Plus, many of the positions will be high quality and pay well.

I owned a boutique media communications agency for over two decades, and would regularly meet with owners and c-suite executives interested in transitioning from a traditional sales process to digital on the internet. Invariably, when the directive to change came from the TOP DOWN, the success rate of the project dramatically increased. One reason was because when the plan came from a leader with a clear agenda and goal, it was easier during my Change Management process to identify executives that demonstrated strong confirmation bias. The goal however wasn’t only to change their minds. It was also to identify anyone with a high possibility of sabotaging the transition, and to move them to other departments or projects, or let them go.

Change is difficult and expensive, so anyone who isn’t cooperative and collaborative is a liability.

Bias is a very challenging complication that impacts projects at many levels. It’s one reason why third party certifications are so important. Third parties make it easier for us to modify our reasoning when we know the impending change isn’t a personal affront to our loyalties.

Certifications are also used to identify companies that play by the rules and meet standards. Regarding fisheries, current certification programs, are unfortunately, ill conceived, chaotic, and today, heavily influenced by environmental players, which is a new twist and complexity. Everyone, including, and especially the consumer is confused. Way too many fisheries’ surveys are quoted without identifying who paid for it and how many people were polled. Asking six people in your organization or industry a biased question isn’t a legitimate survey – it’s misleading and meant to confuse, even if it’s done by a professor at a university.

Anyone can be bought – Norwegian Farmed Salmon producers charged with Price Fixing in Canada.

Confusion, as we’ve seen in the U.S. presidential race, is a great way to bury information.

The 2020 Science Direct CERTIFICATION report is comprehensive. It highlights “sustainability indicators” as well as issues related to “environmental and governance”. The report includes an innovative Wheel of Sustainability, and also pointers to critical insight like; “Working towards sustainability requires a holistic perspective”, and also that certification programs, and there are way too many, focus mostly on the environment, but do not necessarily improve sustainability. The mistaken assumption being that if you improve the ocean environment, sea life will benefit. That however, is not the case because sustainability has its own specific criteria for success.

A growing number of consumers don’t trust commercial fisheries and are vocal about it on social media. Their influence, in part, and in addition to science of course, impacts seafood certification. Consumers vote, which means politicians also have considerable incentive to contribute to the narrative. Today, because environmentalists and consumers are so strongly aligned, they collectively have more influence on certifications and the future of a seafood company than one might imagine. It’s highly likely, going forward post-pandemic, that environmental issues will continue to dominate and take precedence under a flag of “Enough is Enough”.

Traditional fisheries might not like it, but already … LAND-BASED aquaculture is VERY RAPIDLY taking on a life of its own.

The Wheel of Sustainability is designed to shape fisheries certification criteria, and to make order of the chaos. Success of the network ecosystem is dependent on a delicate balance of collaboration, communication, and transparency – plus data, BIG DATA.

Trustworthy companies manage bias transparently.

B Corps operate in this sphere by making it clear up front that their philosophy is a balance of ethics and profit.

To quote from the B Corp website:

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.” 

It’s a great shopping list for the #EthicalMajority


Here’s a list of seafood companies certified B Corp;

Organic Ocean – Wild Seafood

Sea to Table – Wild Seafood

FishPeople – Wild Seafood

Gold Seal – Wild Seafood

Hog Island – Oyster Farm

I’ve developed wild and aquaculture projects for local and international markets for almost a decade. The biggest issue I’ve encountered is that the progress of most fisheries has stagnated. All fisheries have to invest considerably more in environmental programs in order to make a difference – talk is cheap. The Canadian government wants open-net pens to be enclosed, or transitioned out of the Pacific to LAND-BASED facilities over the next several years. Ocean farmers are angry, and in some cases justified, but the reality is that there was plenty of opportunity to do a better environmental job over the last four decades. Instead, many squandered their time while Norway advanced land-based operations.

We recently saw what happened with pandemic masks, and figured out pretty quickly that humans can’t be trusted to do the right thing even when their lives depend on it. The honour system for fisheries doesn’t work either, which means we need a brand new set of regulations from the DFO and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan.

I could be mistaken, and I apologize if so, but I can’t find even one finfish farm on the B Corp site, so if you know of any please send them my way.

It seems to me that a fishery like open-net pen fish aquaculture, an industry that is so beleaguered by ecological and environmental criticism, would be first in line for simple, trusted, and truly independent third-party certification. Becoming a B Corp would be an immutable way for open-net pen farmers to quell naysayers. I clearly understand the challenges to be business certified, but by now, August 2020, it looks like not even one open-net fish farm is in the house, blue or otherwise. The closest I could find is a Chilean seafood processor that promotes farmed; Integar.

After years of research, in my professional opinion RAS is the most humane and environmentally friendly method for oceans and climate. If it turns out that there isn’t even one aquaculture company listed yet, my thinking is that a CRAFT-style LAND-BASED RAS IMTA company will be the first certified B Corp fish farm.

It’s remotely possible too that the first land-based fish farm to make B Corp certification will be a company like Atlantic Sapphire. At that scale though, and considering they’re still under construction, they have sizable energy and water challenges to sort out. It could be a while before they get their eco-environmental groove on. Unlike open-net salmon farms though, Atlantic Sapphire is aggressively reinventing fisheries and moving in the right direction regarding sustainability.

All good things take time … and money!

In Part 3 I’ll cover the value of transparency to a company and its customers

Part 1… 2… 3… 4…

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

A Simple Fisheries Question … News Media?

Part 1 of a 4 part series …


News Media? … is a simple question with a complicated answer.

News media has been top of mind for many over the last few years thanks in large part to U.S. president Donald Trump. He’s a master of divide and conquer confusion, and knows that news media is an effective pawn in his personal war.

Trump has embraced the term FAKE NEWS, and so should you if for no reason other than to be able to recognize it when you see it.

It’s harder to spot DEEP FAKE than you think.

Here’s what it looks like …

Here’s how it’s done

Fake news impacts fisheries every day

We’re unaware though, mostly because humans are trusting by nature.

My simple question, unfortunately, requires a complex answer, because just as there are different species of salmon, there are various types of news media. The challenge is that unless we have special awareness that comes through training and experience, we tend to lump all news media together in one chaotic kettle of fish.

SeaFood for Thought

Most would not argue that the Canadian government failed to effectively manage the announcement to move open-net pens to land-based operations. The message was surprising, and harsh. It cut deeply and hurt thousands. A heartfelt apology about this insensitivity to fish farm families would do a lot to calm the waters in BC. It’s not in anyone’s interest to make the transition harder. Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and Coast Guard, the Honorable Bernadette Jordan will have an even harder time to get open-net operators to the table in part because they are now fearful. Who wouldn’t be scared if you thought your company would be phased out? When employees lose faith, they bail.

All fisheries are under incredible pressure and have been for many years. Owners, and their entire job forces are nervous, and have been pushed over the edge because of the pandemic. Dropping a bomb about transitioning from open-net to land-based is hurtful – people have families. I highly doubt that the intent of the announcement was malicious, because to what endbut it sure felt that way.  

Contrary to what open-net pen advocates claim, the feds know it’s the right decision to transition to land-based. They get no points however for how it was presented.

Was it political? Of course, a bit. Overly political? Not when you consider that the ethical majority want climate change brought under control, and also that transitioning open-net farms to land-based will have a positive impact on oceans and sea life.

The message got ahead of the government so they had to scramble to explain their campaign. Change management is more art than science, and we know what governments think of art – it’s often the first budget cut. Several years ago I rebranded the largest seafood marketing council in Canada. The CHANGE CHALLENGE then, and still is … NO ONE WANTS TO CHANGE UNTIL THEY HIT THE WALL.

Careers are like addictions.

The reality is that west coast Canada will sooner-than-later transition to land-based RAS or runway fish farming. How aqua farmers become part of the transition will dictate their long term success.

It isn’t the first time in our lives that industries have been impacted by major change – a paradigm shift of sorts. I remember clearly when my father came home concerned that his company had installed robots from Japan to do his job. The union fought it daily for decades. The battles were incredibly aggressive, and sometimes violent. Workers lost the war less than two years ago after a very painful decades long fight – GM Canada is gone.

Did fighting help? Nope. It’s evolution.

I also recall when the music industry began using computers to mimic the sounds of instruments in recordings and live on stage. At the time I co-managed a multi-million dollar pop star that toured globally and sold millions of records and concert tickets. The musicians I worked with were excited and embraced synthesizers, but string and orchestra players saw the writing on the wall and tried to fight it.

Did it help? Nope. Not at all unfortunately. It’s evolution.

I also remember decades ago when Photoshop and digital cameras came on the scene. My growing Stock Photo FILM business with a million-dollar portfolio lost eighty percent of its value in less than three years. I was devastated.

Did I try to fight it? Nope. I knew it wouldn’t help so I embraced digital quickly.

I learned as much as I could about the burgeoning technology and changed my entire perspective about imagery. Today I co-own an international organization that promotes DIGITAL fine art. Many of my film shooting peers and colleagues fought the change out of principle.

Did it help? Nope. Film is long gone.

Here’s an example that might resonate personally with you.

Do you remember when the internet was introduced in 1989? Newspapers claimed almost immediately and for many years that the internet would never take off. They fought the transition and today still refuse to admit the internet had such a devastating impact. Back in the day, Craigslist lit the digital fire by competing directly with print Classified Ads. Craigslist didn’t kill newspapers, news companies did it to themselves by fighting change.

Evolution also Killed the Radio Star

Did it help to fight? Nope.

Malls too, are taking an evolutionary hit

Today, if I were an open-net pen fish farmer, I’d be racing to figure out how to leverage the evolution to land-based.

If you dig your heels in, eventually you’ll be fighting with all levels of government. Is that an investment you want to make after knowing what happened in other industries over the last several decades?

Environmental proponents have aligned with land-based aquaculture, and use social media to fuel the conversation with the #Ethical Majority . It’s a powerful collaboration.

The internet NEVER eradicated music, radio, TV, books, newspapers, imagery, or little else. At the end of the day, change delivered different opportunities for all of these industries, and it will do the same for fisheries, oceans, and sea life.

Wanna know who the internet did kill?

MIDDLEMEN, who happen to be the most vocal resistors because they see the writing on the wall and want to protect their careers at the expense of all else. Disintermediation is economic streamlining and often impossible for companies to ignore.

I feel for middlemen, but personally, if they keep putting up false fronts, I vote to have them go extinct instead of salmon.

If middlemen want to survive they have to get on board.

Regarding the transition to land-based, employees most at risk are those in middle management positions who are also middle-aged or older who won’t have the skills or education necessary to make the move to a more sophisticated and advanced operation.

If I just described you, it is in your best interest to immediately upgrade your skills before you become redundant. Regardless of your wall of degrees, unless you’ve been upgrading your education every year, a traditional veterinarian education more than ten years old won’t help you much today with land-based technology. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given open-net pen owners and employees fair warning, so don’t squander your time, or worse, decide you’re going to throw out an anchor to slow evolution. Fighting it doesn’t work.

The IRON LAW of INSTITUTIONS applies here in spades.

Change is a game of finesse and collaboration across the entire industry, and is another reason why we need more women in fisheries. Diplomacy is key to success.

BTW Cancel Culture … just got Frighteningly Real

… one last morsel, if China applies kabozi jishu, “stranglehold technology” to fisheries, like it does to other manufacturing growth sectors in China, the global seafood industry will explode overnight – for better or worse.

In Part 2 I’ll cover the roles that different types of news media play in land-based aquaculture …

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Fisheries Covid ReCap Summer 2020

Everyone has a COVID opinion, and in the fast and brutal world of viruses, how you manage opinions can mean the difference between life and death.

So … what have we learned so far about Covid-19?

We learned Covid is expensive – so much so that we may never return any time soon to where we were, although in some respects it might be a good thing considering the poor health of our oceans and sea life. While many businesses are on hiatus, and others are barely afloat waiting to see … we have an opportunity to improve our infrastructure and ideology, and #ReinventFisheries

In Vegas, when a recession hits and people don’t have MAD MONEY to gamble, casino owners tear down and reinvent!

Today in fisheries it’s about leveraging downtime to advance your technology. It’s time to learn what BIG DATA is all about, and how to leverage it to drive sales and efficiencies.

Odds are that we’ll invest huge sums of time and money normalizing our new normal, so be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint.

NORMAL‘ for fisheries, is a reflection of monopolies and oligarchs that wield considerable power over the entire seafood supply chain. Big companies exploit loopholes and also develop complex end-runs around regulations that hoodwink governments. Their machinations are multilayer and have been slowly and covertly built over decades. As a result of supplying these large enterprise monopolies, most independent fishers, craft fish farmers, and smaller processors haven’t had a reason to develop standalone supply chains to service local and/or international markets. Consequently, now, as Covid-19 pushes local digital marketing to the forefront, small and mid-size seafood companies are scrambling to catch up. It’s a steep curve, and the longer you wait, the harder it gets.

I also see way too many companies waiting for a return to normal, but that unfortunately, is highly unlikely.

Developing LOCAL markets, as we now see occuring at breakneck speed, provides opportunity for smaller independents, and spreads the wealth by reducing ownership concentrations.

We learned that fisheries everywhere are tethered on a thread, and that the entire industry in general is poorly structured and chaotically managed. A bump in the road like a pandemic causes global pileups and egregious carnage. It’s not a secret that almost every single country mismanages their fisheries. It’s easy to see on social media because fisheries around the globe all complain about the same core issues, which means that very few countries get it right. Collectively, we know what to do, but choose not to for many reasons, one being profit.

Basically, we all want more than to just survive, but sustainability is costly and an expense that EVERYONE in the supply chain has to share. Seafood is now so expensive we can’t continue to escalate the cost for consumers. Consequently, our industry has to become more efficient so we can carry the cost of sustainability. The first thing that has to go are extraneous steps. We need to streamline from water to plate, and use technology to do the heavy lifting. It’s time to reinvent distribution and think more aggressively about digital direct marketing.

From the outset of Covid-19, it quickly became apparent that the buzz phrase “New Normal” is useless. Besides, isn’t it rude and not PC to refer to anyone or anything as normal because it infers “abnormal”, as in “He’s abnormal because he suggests Lysol might be medicine.”

Instead of the New Normal, maybe we should call this first phase-Covid era, the New Different, or even better still, the Better Way, or even way better still, “The way we should have done things from the very beginning, but excessive corporate profitability ran amok.

For every person who wears a mask, another won’t because they don’t understand the concept of erring on the side of caution.

It’s not like masks are expensive, or overly uncomfortable, but protecting your own life and others does seem to infringe on some people’s sense of freedom.

Ironically, they choose to defend this right by recklessly risking their lives and others, meaning yours. They are essentially mask-less heroes for justice who take very deep breaths as they march and protest, and later go to jail or home, hoping for the best. We are only now starting to see the results of thousands massed together at a political rally in Tulsaa group that has seen an increase in viral infections. Interestingly, so far the BLM protests haven’t caused a spikegood mask etiquette. Yes, there is a correlation, but I’m leaving it to you to figure it out.

We learned that Trump has one of the BEST CULTS, and that it’s HUMUNGOUSLY HUGE, even though his popularity is plunging in the polls.

We also think we’ve learned that after all is said and done, nothing will change unless we build even more momentum and compel civic leaders to act responsibly – “compel” being open to interpretation as evidenced by peaceful BLM protests that exploded into smash and grab orgies.

We also learned that the KKK is not officially a terrorist organization. Who knew? So why the hoods?

We learned, shockingly, that most consumers do not know what type of seafood they are buying or eating, and also that the seafood choices they make, have a direct impact on our oceans and climate. Consequently, we now know that EDUCATION is one of the BEST TOOLS to fight COVID, RACISM, and CULTS. Transparency, and tracking fish from water to plate will help too, a lot.

We also learned that regardless of what people say, Americans will inevitably do something else, like make seafood purchase-decisions first based on cost, and then secondly also on cost, the cheaper the better, and then finally, on cost again … in preference to sustainability almost every time. Big data tells us that consumers in America don’t yet care enough about sustainability, at least not enough of them do, to make a difference. The numbers are clear, we know it for fact, and learned that governments really, really, really, need to more EFFECTIVELY educate the public about what is truly sustainable, and what is marketing speak. If you think our current watchdogs are hitting the mark regarding sustainability, why are so many fish species still going extinct?  It’s a simple question.

Interestingly though, the numbers in Europe are different and indicate that Euro consumers do in fact make better seafood purchase decisions based on sustainability.

Some of us now know that being DIVISIVE is not what it’s cracked up to be, and that being collaborative, is way harder to do than it looks, but it’s still better than divisive when you’re fighting a deadly pandemic.

We learned, tragically, that seniors are expendable and that some political types feel seniors should volunteer to fall on the sword if they catch Covid. OK, I’m not so sure about this particular Covid lesson because I’m pretty sure my grandkids would object – I don’t have Covid, I’m just saying.

Long term care facilities should once again be called Old Folks Homes, because at least then we would be reminded that we are caring for humans, not fish, although in some places we take better care of fish than they take care of Grandma. It was a hard lesson and something we must follow through with, just like we must ensure racism is eradicated.

We’ve also learned not to touch our eyes, nose, mouth, and other orifices when out and about. Well, most of us have learned, but some like to live on the edge and play One Bullet RouletteI also learned that associating suicide games of life and death with one specific country, is not cool. Sorry Russia. You don’t get to wear that badge of intimidation any longer.

We now know that those who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, were correct. And those who did, still don’t know why they need to wear a mask. It’s a Darwinian dystopia drowning in irony.

We learned that holding your breath in an elevator is only good for about five floors, and then you exhale explosively half way to six which results in having to take your deepest breath of the day in an environment where the Covid-19 virus can live and float around for up to three hours in the air, and for a day or three on hard surfaces like elevator buttons.

Who knew, apparently no one during the first two months. I’ve been taking the stairs though, from the beginning because it didn’t take long to realize that even the specialists didn’t know anything for certain, and most still don’t. Some expert opinions though, I do trust more than others.

We learned that being a leader, a true leader, means being able to trust the experts around you, and to delegate responsibility so you can do what you’re expected to do, which contrary to popular opinion, isn’t golf.

One of the most surprising things we’ve learned; Regardless of how many people are dying of Covid-19 related issues, there will always be companies, big or small that will quickly figure out a way to profit off the pain of othersand it’s sometimes the companies we know and love. Greed knows no bounds, which means that at the end of the day, everyone is on their own. Hopefully though, the 2020 pandemic will inspire collaboration over the long term and not just while we’re gasping in survival mode.

Some of us learned that fisheries people, for the MOST part especially in aquaculture, are technology-anemic. Many, who still can’t even use email properly, erroneously believe that somehow they will be able to manage a sophisticated small enterprise RAS IMTA land-based fish farming facility that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine earning tied to SCADA and oxygen monitoring networks. Not likely Captain. Land-Based fish farms are even more complex than the Starship Enterprise.

The reality is that Atlantic Sapphire is a technology company, and nothing like any farm we’ve ever seen.

It’s no longer the good old days where all you had to do was show up with a boat like a pirate and pillage until all the fish are gone. BTW, why do we continue to tolerate trawlers in this era – the amount of wasted by-catch is criminal.

We also learned that it will take tremendous WILL to develop what many still refer to as the NEW NORMAL, and that as soon as it looks like it’s possible to RETURN to the OLD NORMAL, many probably will because it’s profitable at scale for monopolies. Some however, thankfully seem to be evolving very rapidly, especially indies and restaurateurs.

Not only is the last mile to the consumer’s plate the hardest, the first mile in the fishing boat is pretty challenging too.

We learned, and this is exciting, that there is a LOCAL MARKET, and that if you develop and manage it properly it can be incredibly lucrative. Who knew? YOU would have, if it was in our industry associations better interests, but it’s not. Fisheries organizations, associations, councils and the like focus primarily if not exclusively on international markets where large seafood companies generate the highest profit. It’s business. Unfortunately, suppliers like fishers and farmers, who take the greatest risk and do the hardest work have little control over their destinies, and when the market crashes they sink with it, as evidenced by the slow motion covid death spiral some are currently experiencing.

If you are smart enough to already have LOCAL digital sales and marketing channels, CONGRATULATIONS!

For the other 95%, it’s time to *THINK TECHNOLOGY and reinvent how you operate.

We learned that there are too many BAD restaurants, and that we are way better home cooks than we imagined, plus it’s cheaper! We know because you’ve already shown us millions of your culinary creations, with captions like; Looks like crap, but tastes incredible! Hopefully, people will continue to cook at home, and that they will be brave and enjoy seafood more often than just on Friday.

Home cooks are just starting to learn that seafood is way easier and faster to cook than red meat or poultry.

Fish is also WAY MORE CLIMATE FRIENDLY to raise than beef, or pork, or chickenthe differences are insane!

I learned, unfortunately, that I’m inadvertently challenged regarding racism, and that being half-oblivious to inequality makes me ashamed and sad. I am now fully committed to regarding people and society in a new light and to also be more aware of my words and thoughts. Although I’ve never done it, I never realized how hurtful blackface is, and thought most people did it as a tribute, and that black people would see it that way. I thought black people liked Al Jolson and didn’t know blackface began in the U.S. after the civil war in order to demean and dehumanize people of colour. I also thought The General, that Bo drove, was a very cool car, but now I know. How come we’re not taught empathy and race history in schools?  I formed a mental list of words and phrases to remove from my vocabulary, like Peanut Gallery, Uppity, Shuck and Jive, No Can Do, Grandfather Clause, Thug, and a long list of other words that I didn’t know had racist undertones or beginnings.

Every seafood lover in the world learned that major elements of the SEAFOOD SUPPLY CHAIN in almost every country are decrepit, outdated, and worst of all, secretive and corrupt. Backroom deals, fake sustainability, substituting fish for cheaper species, and corruption at all levels bobbed to the surface belly up when Covid hit. The worst tragedy occurred when we all discovered that seafood processing facilities are terrible and dangerous places to work because of outdated infrastructure, overcrowding, low pay, long hours and sporadic work. Shocker #2 is that it’s not any better on fishing boats either, or in the fields for migrant workers.

We learned that even though traditional fish farms were introduced decades ago as the darling that would save fisheries, it turned out to be the exact opposite. Open-net pen fish farming operations pollute the ocean and infect wild fish. Consequently the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, over the next several years wants to move all open-net pens on the west coast out of the ocean and transition Canada into land-based aquaculture farms. Needless to say, we soon learned that traditional fish farmers were not impressed and promised to fight the transition, calling it nonsense.

We also learned that when everyone is sinking, HATE isn’t a strong enough word for how people in the industry regard their competition. It’s brutal for small companies and independents, and many more would be dead without support from the government – some though, are already gone – permanently.

We learned that some people feel that because of Covid-19 and it’s disruption, today is a perfect time to fix all that is broken with fisheries – and they would be correct. Considering we’re currently not doing any substantial seafood business, now is the time to REINVENT FISHERIES and throw out all the negativity and bad business practices that harm the environment and sea life. It’s time to make systemic changes that will improve our industry and repair the oceans at the same time. Fisheries need to reinvent how we capture, raise, process, and distribute seafood. It’s time to educate the public so they know how to shop and recognize truly sustainable seafood.

It’s also a perfect time for the seafood industry to clear the confusion regarding the meaning of FRESH. For example, fish that is captured and slowly frozen on a commercial boat, then partially thawed at a local facility so it can be headed and gutted, and then frozen again so it can be placed on a boat to Asia where it once again is partially thawed so it can be filleted, and then put back on a boat to Canada where it is packaged, then distributed to grocers and displayed as FRESH or FRESH FROZEN … is NOT FRESH in any way, shape, or form.

Marketing LOCAL helps solve the FRESH issue.

Technology also puts a fresh spin on seafood!

We also learned that no fisheries anywhere do enough to protect life in the ocean, and that they could and should do considerably more. Yes, we have organizations and associations that loudly proclaim sustainability, but they are third parties and not fisheries. They have zero power to ensure fish are not caught and marketed in an unsustainable manner. The best they can do, and it’s obvious now that it’s not enough, is recommend.

Covid taught us that humans cannot even be trusted to make decisions that are good for our personal health, let alone the health of oceans and fish species.

Finally, we learned that every aspect of fisheries and the seafood industry has to be better regulated and more closely monitored as if the oceans, its fish, and our lives depend on it.

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Truth Transparency Trust

We all want the truth, but we don’t want to be honest.

We all want transparency, but we don’t want to reciprocate.

We all want trust … but we don’t want to earn it.

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die

As spring wanes, a perfect storm of peaceful protests, the 2020 pandemic, and Black Lives Matter race riots create a vortex of tension that could permanently harm society on both emotional and economic levels. All styles of news media, mainstream and social, are leveraging If it Bleeds it Leads drama to full effect, whether it’s covid chaos, race related deaths, or looters rampaging. As a result it’s now much easier for anyone, regardless of political persuasion, to see that neither Trump, Xi Jinping or Putin are truthful and worthy of our trust.

United States is seething in the streets under a chaotic cloak of politics, greed, and power that barely even pretends to seek the truth or promote change. In parallel worlds, Hong Kong violently struggles to maintain autonomous status quo, while Russia covertly stokes BLM fires.

Even though everyone has been aware of equality issues for decades, very few in the 1% have yet to initiate substantial and plausible solutionsrace and equality problems need billions of dollars, not millions.

In a repugnant game of one-upmanship, United States, China, and Russia are all exposing their underbellies, especially to their respective citizens. Leaders, who are feigning to have only now discovered the depth of racism, have been outed as disingenuous … we don’t need more talk, we need money – today. Everyone knows exactly what to do with funding, and it starts with education.

The world is thankful for massive financial contributions from several individuals and companies regarding Racism and Covid, but the obscenely wealthy need to step up in even greater numbers to help in more substantial ways, and not just capitalize on fire sale investment opportunities.

Everyone wants to leverage the momentum, including and especially politico-celebrities. Religious performers / self-described activists like the Reverend Al Sharpton are scrambling to get in the parade and capitalize on the energysome do it more seamlessly than others. Iconic, anti-racism leaders, who clearly know that today’s atrocities were preventable, must surely be having a hard time post-race-riots managing the guilt they feel from their failures. No? Maybe not. It’s clear for anyone who cares to look though, that celebrity activists are not as results centric as they would like their followers to believe – a lot of noise, few tangible results.

Donald Trump Al Sharpton Don King

Sharpton recently slighted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the PM’s 21 Second Silence

Trudeau’s measured response to news media about Trump’s threat to use military to manage George Floyd protestors quickly morphed into a deafening diplomatic pause that reverberated thunderously around the world. It was an allegorical Tree Falling in the Forest moment, except this time the entire globe heard it, and saw the dust.

Silence has never been so loud.

Sharpton, criticizing a Canadian leader because Trudeau chose empathy over forceis the crux of the problem in the U.S.

Regardless of why Trudeau’s silence occurred; some suggested it was the malfunctioning of never-existing teleprompters, while others claimed it was flat-footedness. Speculation aside though, the now-famous 21 Seconds loudly proclaims respect for humanity, and thoughtful, DIPLOMATIC leadership – the antithesis of Trump.

When the PM did speak, he delivered a profound message of empathy and perseverance. Prime Minister Trudeau crossed the finish line eloquently, and when he did, True North Strong and Free hearts leapt – even if they didn’t vote for him in the last election.

I don’t always agree with the PM – especially when he stays on message in media scrumsit’s old school. Today’s modern media philosophy is less rigid and delivers an alternative, appropriate, and approved response that answers the question, although not necessarily in the way the journalist was expecting. For the most part though, Trudeau has an excellent grasp on managing news reporters in a way that ensures Canada’s story is reported in the best way possible for our country, and for his political career. It’s a learned skill that improves with practice, and I’m sure is also ingrained in Trudeau’s DNA.

Sharpton has had decades to fix the U.S. racism issue and has made a fortune playing celebrity activist while the U.S. crumbles under artificial leadership. That, is the TRANSPARENCY part we all need to pay more attention to in our daily lives. Who’s real, and who’s fake?

In 2020, society sees everything at a glance through an anamorphic social media lens, so when faux leaders are in it for the money, like Trump and others, we can see it clearly. Until Sharpton took a back-handed shot at our PM, I thought perhaps the Celebrity Reverend might be one of the genuinely good guys, but I don’t believe it to be as true today. I haven’t given up on him completely, but Sharpton lost my trust by being spiteful and self-serving.

The leverage that Sharpton wanted to achieve with his snide comment, resulted in nothing more than a feeble attempt to appropriate, for his personal benefit, the contemplative silence Trudeau created.

PR 101: When a third party does something GOOD for YOUR cause, it’s foolish to slow the momentum they created. It’s exposes your self-indulgence and is harmful for your team.

My take on it as a seasoned public relations strategist and crisis communication advisor, is that Sharpton missed a great opportunity to run with and leverage Trudeau’s silence and the diplomatic pause that echoed around the world. It would be a fair guess to say that the black activist felt intimidated by a Canadian leader who is more influential than he, and ironically, who Sharpton conceivably interprets as stealing his limelight. No one wants to be upstaged when there is so much at personal stake, but you have to know when to step back so you don’t ruin momentum that supports your cause and the public good.

The Reverend and America have had a very long time to fix racism issues, but they failed horribly and tragically, so here’s a suggestion to help them move forward more effectively in the future;

Practice what you preach and be genuinely accepting of others. Tolerance isn’t good enough!

a trifecta for success.

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Feeding Canada


Covid culling is increasing worldwide, and some of it … is purely for profit.

Pigs and chickens are being slaughtered and buried in mass graves or chopped up for animal feed or fertilizer because farmers can’t afford to buy feed. It’s a tragedy that’s both reluctantly accepted and morally unsettling. Sometimes though, culling occurs simply because animals eating … eat into a farm’s profit. Culling to balance your bottom line is common for farmers and producers, but mass culling for profit is alarming for consumers. It sends a message that the food industry considers pigs, chickens, and even fish, little more than feedlot pawns.

As a result of Covid-19 disrupting distribution and the public’s access to food, consumers are intently watching what our industry is doing behind the scenesespecially those off work who now spend all of their time on news COMMENT sections.

Slaughter for profit is not like dumping milk or eggs.

At a time when consumers are struggling to navigate their way through a broken food supply chain, producers are dumping meat and vegetables instead of figuring out how to distribute it.

Kudos to fish farms for redistributing salmon to food banks. It’s a step in the right direction and a great model for other meat industries to follow!

If there was ever a time to reinvent our food production system and supply chain … it is now.

Covid-19 is already spawning radical supply chain innovation.

The move to digital direct marketing is critical for B2C and B2B, and if you want to tap into the NEW independant global seafood market, you’ll need to be able to fluently manage data.

While food systems are down globally, it’s a good time for your company to get technical and take a serious look at small enterprise CRM and distribution networks set up to manage BIG DATA.

As a seafood producer you might soon have to decide, on-the-fly whether the Canadian seafood you market will be sold to China or United States. For strategic reasons, you might not want to sell to both, or might not be able to because of new regulations. Trump or Jinping could also institute covert sanctions against seafood companies for selling to a country not on their respective approval lists. Transparency and traceability are about to go into hyperdrive, which means speed will be even more critical.

Technology helps companies move quickly

Covid could also spawn a 2020 Cold War that could turn smoked BC salmon into Cuban Cigar deja vu!

It might turn out that you’re best strategy going forward Post-Covid is to focus on sales within Canada and other smaller countries. It might not be a strategy for everyone, but those who know how to make it work will carve out a niche, especially if you produce premium quality wild capture RAS IMTA finfish like salmon, sablefish, or halibut, and other seafood like mussels, clams, and maybe even seaweed. Fish raised in a clean water RAS environment free of mercury, PCBs, and microplastics will always find premium buyers.

The cost of food in restaurants in 2020 is about to skyrocket. If customers are forced to pay covid premiums, they will demand extraordinary quality, and purity can be an advantageous differentiating factor. Leveraging trends tied to market statistics will help keep you competitive. Going forward, you’ll need to know your numbers and how to interpret data.

For a point of reference; China has 100 billionaires who are parliamentary members of the Communist Party of China. Think about that for a second, and then do a quick Google search to see how many billionaires Canada has in our parliament. Turns out it’s zero. I know from forty years of hands on global marketing experience that Canada doesn’t have as much influence in the world as most Canadian entrepreneurs think. We have to work hard and negotiate aggressively for everything we receive. There is no doubt that patriotism is alive and healthy North of the 49th, but historically for Canadians, consumers make purchase decisions mostly based on the cheapest product on store shelves. Patriotism isn’t even a close second at checkout. Maybe it will be different this time … but I doubt it.

International politics is about to rock everyone’s boats, and the better we are at diplomacy, the better our chance of surviving and thriving.

Some believe Prime Minster Trudeau should get tough with China.

Based on my experience though, it looks to me like Trudeau’s Team is doing a solid job protecting and negotiating for Canada’s advantage. Timing is everything. I like that our government is patient and that our Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan is also taking a strong lead.

Angry consumers are, nonetheless, indicating through threats of BOYCOTT that they are NOT going to support companies and countries that undermine Canada. Today, using social media, consumers are able to see where a company’s loyalties lie. How long Canadian anger will last is anyone’s guess, but so far, threats of boycott are growing. The tipping point will depend on how well our government manages the international debate. Information and education will be key.


It’s unfortunate, but the seafood industry is one of the slowest sectors in Canada to embrace advanced digital marketing and social media. Although a few smaller seafood companies like Skipper Otto jumped on it early and do exceedingly well.

Covid-19 however, is starting to push some companies to develop a more professional and efficient online and eCommerce presence, and the trend is only going to grow.

To make the Covid challenge even more difficult for seafood, the pandemic is accelerating the rise of FAUX meat. It’s steadily growing and chipping away to become another product in direct competition with real seafood.

The other reality today is that wild salmon is falling out of favour because consumers are genuinely concerned about overfishing. The sustainability conundrum opens the door to sci-fi like solutions we watched on Star Trek thirty years ago – meal in a pill! …yum.

Adding insult to injury, wild and farmed salmon are insanely expensive!

Relatively speaking, cost is the main reason seafood has such small market share compared to poultry, pork and beef. The irony is that red meat takes at least eight times more energy than fish to produce, yet beef still leads the pack in a market that claims they want to protect the environment.

We obviously need better education, but that’s not going to happen unless governments RADICALLY change how they manage grants. It’s a critical challenge that prevents small and medium seafood companies from growing. The current system works GREAT for big companies that have large accounting teams to manage the complexity, but it automatically shuts everyone else out. There are a few workarounds, but unless you’re in the loop, you’ll never figure it out on your own because the system is cleverly designed to keep you at bay.

Seafood lovers are conflicted because even though they want to protect wild salmon species, they don’t want the perceived cure – open-net pen fish farming, to be worse than the disease – overfishing. It’s why LAND-BASED fish farming appeals to younger demographics who vote with their wallets. Land-based salmon farming will truly take pressure off of wild salmon stocks, and it will do so while being carbon neutral and ocean friendly – something open-net pen fish farmers and wild fishers will never be able to accomplish given the current system.

Most small seafood companies lack global vision and commitment. Take a quick look at the short video below of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s provincial Health Officer, and think about where you and your company fit into the global corona virus equation. Compare how Dr. Henry has assessed and approached the Covid challenge compared to Donald Trump or Xi Jinping. Dr. Henry has done a great job for British Columbia and has a better sense than most in Canada of the severe health challenges we could experience if we don’t continue to manage Covid responsibly.

At the end of May 2020, we are not out of the woods – far from it!

Average people every day are losing jobs and having retirement funds wiped out. If isolation and lockdown continue for even two more months, those in the bottom quarter of the economic sector, statistically 25% of the population, will be destitute and homeless. To date in Canada, it’s only been about ninety days sheltering in place, and people are already starting to panic and act-out. Something that few are discussing openly, is the residual psychological effect that businesses and consumers will suffer.

Mental health practitioners are warning governments to prepare for psychological repercussions of Covid-19.

Moderately comfortable people, including most business owners are not too concerned yet because they have more of an economic buffer than those who are poor. At this point the moderates do NOT feel like they will lose their businesses or homes and starve, but that could rapidly change. News media focus primarily on the most needy because marginalised people need immediate help, plus, it generates controversial headlines. Covid however, is also creeping towards undermining middle-income earners, and when this large group hits the red panic button all hell will break loose, especially if desperate companies continue to slaughter and dump even more animals for profit.

Humans have a short memory – social media doesn’t.

Covid or not, activists are paying attention and making lists for public consumption in the future.

Personal responsibility and transparency have become Covid mantras for politicians, and it will soon be the same for executives. What you do today will resonate forever online because someone is always watching. You can run, but you can’t hide. It’s better to figure out the new system than it will be to assume it’s “business as usual.” The secret to success is to be adaptable!


If you’re the type who needs proven statistics to help you make good business decisions, and who doesn’t these days, take a look at some of the numbers below from Pew Research.

Pew is a highly respected, non-profit, non-partisan, non-advocacy American public-polling FACT TANK. They collect data that many news companies publish. The difference is that Pew reports pure numbers, whereas news media covertly insert their bias. Pew primarily polls Americans, but considering our neighboring proximity, many of the results also reflect Canada views – interpolate as necessary.

If you don’t have Pew Research on your list of trusted sources you’re missing half of the conversation.

Here’s a quick overview; Keep in mind that Pew polls average citizens, which means that the numbers simply indicate what people think, and not necessarily what is good for the world or for your business. Knowing what your market thinks makes it easier to serve their expectations. You have to interpret these numbers and not take them at face value.

A few more COVID-19 FACTS from PEW

How we TRUST during Covid

Young Workers Hardest Hit

Partisan Reactions re Covid

COVID RISK to Businesses

Political Armwrestling

It’s impossible for anyone to accurately predict what will happen in Asia because the political unrest in China is ramping up chaotically. The world is angry. Some westerners believe that IF countries stick together and work collectively, we might have an impact on communist China. I wouldn’t hold my breath though because most world leaders won’t stand in solidarity. Most countries are already quietly scrambling to independently make new seafood deals with China, the second most powerful global economy next to the U.S. The gamble here is about which market will grow faster post-Covid, China, or America, and which will require more seafood imports. When you throw new tariffs into the equation the choice becomes even more difficult.

China has great incentive to offer deals to smaller countries because global polarization gives the CPC leverage against the United States. Prime Minister Trudeau undoubtedly knows this, and I suspect he’s biding his time waiting for post-covid markets to shake out a bit. His first responsibility was to the health of Canadian citizens. His focus in May 2020 is now shifting to our economy.

President Trump has taken an opposite tack and has always been obsessed with the economy.

The U.S. president is also threatening to ignore China, but we know from his past actions it’s mostly bluff. Without Chinese factories, America will waste even faster than it is now.

If Trudeau plays his cards right, he can place Canada in a seafood bidding war between China and the U.S., but is that what Canadians want politically? We’ll soon see.

It took decades to build the Asia America global manufacturing coalition, and it will take as long to shift it back to western shores, if it’s even possible. Trump wants a struggling America to be great again, however, what he’s not making clear is that the transition could take decades.

In our fast food world, voters want it now, but it’s delusional though to think major change will happen overnight. In a generation maybe, although it will take incredible risk, investment, and fortitude to turn the tide.

The other wild card is whether Trump will be re-elected – he surprised us once.

The best business advice anyone can give today is to be prepared for all eventualities. Hedge your bets, don’t be too rigid, and make sure you can easily move in any direction political winds blow.

Inflexible Albertan retailers were broadsided recently when the provincial government changed plans at the last minute regarding the opening of restaurants. Business owners didn’t listen carefully and pre-maturely invested in perishable supplies that had to be scrapped when the government pulled the plug at the eleventh hour. Hopefully, most of it went into the freezer and not as much to waste as first feared.

As I mentioned earlier, on the global front; Canadians are concerned that Prime Minister Trudeau is too soft on China.

Based on my experience managing large audiences, and politics aside, from the beginning Trudeau did what needed to be done, and in the order necessary to save Canadian lives balanced against our economy.

News media is giving this topic exposure because it creates exciting headlines.

To put things in perspective though regarding the PM’s INFLUENCE over China;

Canada has 35 million people 0.48% of the world population.

China has 1,439,323,776 people (almost 1.5 billion)18.47% of the world population.

The USA has 330,760,468 people4.25% of the world population.

China, the WORLD FACTORY, has at least ten times 10X more manufacturing facilities than the U.S. – including companies like Apple, Samsung, and Nokia 5G, heavyweights to be sure.

One big mistake westerners make is to think that China only produces low quality items. The reality however is quite different. Chinese factories also manufacture highly advanced technology, although you’d never know it by listening to western news media. Recently, because inflammatory headlines sell, news media have been heavily reporting that China produces inferior products – specifically PPE items like N95 masks and ventilators.

If you don’t understand how news media works, read “When the Headline Is YOU” by Jeff Ansell. In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, I worked with Jeff for almost two decades as a writer and an advisor, and helped him promote his popular book.

The bottom line is that how we market seafood is about to dramatically change for the better. Sophisticated technology like blockchain on the distributed web will allow us more transparency and streamlined traceability. Everyone in the supply chain, from fisher, fish farmers, processors, and consumers will know exactly where each fish is located in the chain at any time of the day or night. Transparency and traceability are the two factors that create the most chaos in fisheries. Once these networks are in place we can focus more intently on other challenges like overfishing, and how to raise safer fish in climate friendly environments.

If you’re an open-net pen fish farmer, and you’re angry about the transition to land-based salmon farming, you might want to rethink your position in light of the challenges regarding Covid-19. You might also be mistakenly thinking the feds are going to scrap land-based fish farming plans. I doubt very much that the health of oceans and wild fish stocks are off the table. Canada’s open-net pen salmon farmers for the moment have an edge in the move to land-based farming because you already kind of know how to do it. You also need to know though that there are innovators and entrepreneurs working hard to develop in Canada what is already happening in the U.S. If you don’t get on board immediately, you’ll be left behind.

How do I know? … I’ve been developing multi-million dollar RAS IMTA systems and marketing strategies designed to reinvent fisheries and put Canada on the LAND-BASED fish farming map.

The first step is always the toughest.

It’s much harder to CATCH-UP, than KEEP UP!

I’ve developed and promoted digital marketing and distribution strategies for the biggest and smallest companies in the Canadian seafood industry for over a decade.

Today, because of Covid, digital interest has exploded … mostly because we don’t have a choice. Progressive companies that want to survive, are already exploring a variety of very unique and creative online options.

Drop me a line if you have questions …  

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Negotiating Seafood with CHINA

All these new business plans we’re developing, will, at best, be temporarily temporary …

As pandemic fears subside, we’ll fall into a new normal that won’t be familiar, or pretty.

Consumerism will never be the same anywhere in the world, and neither will manufacturing.

In the western world, buying power is already taking a hit because not only do many consumers have less disposable income, they’re also wondering about the second wave. Anti-lockdown activists, who seem to include a lot of Trump supporters, could turn out to be archetypal canaries.

The pandemic has helped us all more clearly see the strengths and failings in local and global civil infrastructure. And although it’s assuring to see most of the world working in vintage Coca Cola harmony, whistleblowers are also attracting considerable attention. China and the USA are bluff-and-blustering accusations and posturing in a way the world hasn’t seen for decades. Racism towards China is growing and becoming violent on the street. People are directing their rage at individual Asians, who to the attackers all look Chinese, even though they might be from South Korea, or maybe First Nations, or even next door.

Sometimes racists become victims.

Racism is blind to reason.

Instead of attacking random individuals, as a collective, society would benefit more by directing energy towards the Communist Party of China.

Rational people don’t support racism or oppression.

Leave race out of the equation and instead explore and identify differences in culture and core political beliefs. To denounce communism is not racist. It’s a political statement that supports democracy and freedom.

Focus on the tangibles we know. For example, the Communist Party of China covered up and took too long to warn the world of an impending pandemic. Consequently, for the CPC at this late date to contribute $2 billion to WHO, smacks of political interference. Many feel it’s not only meant to influence WHO, but also embarrass U.S. President Donald Trump who recently withdrew funding to the World Health Organization.

The world has known for a long time that the CPC acts inhumanely, but until Covid-19, average citizens didn’t have personal reason to fuel the vitriol we see today. Hate crimes are relatively rare in Canada compared to the U.S., but empty bank accounts and dying seniors have ignited outrage. Fortunately, a long history of multiculturalism has helped us become more understanding and tolerant. It is surprising however to hear racist rants about Chinese people from Canadian celebrity, Bryan Adams.

Reporters have become the collateral target.

Protestors are now protesting mainstream news media journalists who show up to cover protesters protesting covid issues … watch this vid

It sounds convoluted and even a little funny,  but when this type of HATE was directed at mainstream news reporters in the ramp up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, average and dangerously misinformed run-of-the-mill weekend activists physically attacked reporters at rallies. Journalists from large news companies were thrown to the ground and had cameras and microphones pushed into their faces. Some were sucker-punched or tripped. It was frightening. Reporters immediately retreated. Not surprisingly, attacks against journalists weren’t reported except by a few fanatical social media sites that have since disappeared.

The irony was lost on most at the time that the original role of mainstream news media is to serve democracy and report in a NON biased manner. Even ten years ago informed people knew the challenge, and today, as a result of Trump’s self-serving media RANTS, more people are finally starting to realize that news media companies are inherently biased. What Trump hasn’t said yet though, is that bias is OK and absolutely acceptable as long as it is disclosed and recognized by all parties.

Covid-19 thrust media bias into the light.

Those who only look at the short game rarely realize that barring or censoring reporters undermines democracy. The remedy is to educate society so we can intelligently question news reports, whether from mainstream or social media.

As the 2020 pandemic wears on, it becomes more apparent that correct information delivered calmly and assertively through trustworthy spokespeople is the key to turning fear and chaos into order.

Education is critical any time we have to change how we think, and will be just as important regarding transitioning from open-net pen salmon farms in the ocean to land-based RAS IMTA facilities. Their resistance to understanding is partially because it’s impossible to get buy-in from someone when they feel threatened and don’t have enough information to see the benefits. The only thing salmon farmers can see today is their livelihood being taken away.

The onus is on the party enacting change to explain and justify their position.  

Climate impact notwithstanding, the shifting loyalties of seafood suppliers and buyers is also forcing change. The companies that bought seafood from us yesterday, won’t be buying it from us tomorrow for a number of political and business reasons – covid being only one.

United States is on the cusp of producing enough farmed salmon in their brand new LAND-BASED facilities like Atlantic Sapphire and Whole Oceans that will easily supply their country, and then some. When it happens, which could start as soon as this year, Canadian farmed salmon will disappear from American tables.

Experts report it’s the right time to start a new seafood business!

Plan today for eventualities tomorrow.

Let me know if you have ideas and need help

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Reinventing Restaurants


Surviving a pandemic depends on your ability to adapt.

Under the shadow of Covid-19, health and business success is not about strength as much as you might think.

It hinges more on your capacity to change.

Restaurant customers in our pandemic era are hesitant, and highly vocal about not returning to spaces that can spread the novel coronavirus. Families and seniors are saying, “We’re not comfortable eating in restaurants until the science and medical community have coronavirus locked down with a vaccine.”

Middle ground demographics are also saying, “We’re learning to cook at home, and loving it!”

Now that they have time on their hands, many report that home cooking is easier than they thought it would be, and actually fun, plus it’s considerably cheaper!

WHAT!?  Who knew that home cooking is cheaper and better for your health?

Considering that at least 70% of seafood is sold in restaurants, what does it mean to you?

Post-Covid, if cooking at home is fun and less expensive, how will restaurants lure customers back who are not only virus-nervous, but now also cost sensitive? It’s a double-edged sword when you consider restaurants are already pushing hard to open and make up for lost revenue, as are many customers who are also not working. We all clearly know that if there is NOT an IMMEDIATE second wave of covid deaths, younger demographics will quickly flood restaurants and bars, and what happens after that will be anyone’s guess.

CLICK to ENLARGE the Covid-19 Healing Timeline

Today’s question is, which restaurant in your area is willing to take the moral risk of going first? The difference this month is that now everyone knows the risk, and if you place your staff and customers in a dangerous environment, and someone is injured or worse, dies, be prepared for lawsuits. Insurance companies are already backing away from liability, which means you could be on your own.

Covid civil actions against seniors’ long term care facilities, insurance companies, and airlines are already ramping up. Restaurants won’t be far behind.

Safe dining is now an oxymoron and will be for quite some time. Most seafood entrepreneurs still don’t fathom the ramifications, with many mistakenly hoping we’ll eventually return to a “new” normal.

Businesses need to be more conscientious about WHOM in news media they believe. Trump isn’t exaggerating about fake news. Here’s an example of an industry news company using a misleading headline; “One in five Canadians say Covid-19 pandemic overblown: Poll

The reality is that 4 out of 5 people feel that Covid-19 is NOT overblown, and that, is the critical stat of which they do not want you to focus. Context is crucial to understanding. Triple check everything you believe to be true before you make a decision regarding the fate of your business. The poll btw, was NOT conducted properly and is NOT legitimate, but it looks like it on first inspection. The article buried a disclaimer in the copy.

Very soon, some restaurants will re-open, but many won’t, at least not the little independents. Small restaurants are already operating on razor thin margins, and a bump like this will seal their fate.

A smattering of food companies are already embracing the Covid challenge and building new opportunities on the backs of their old businesses. – what are you doing?

The mistaken perception is that an overwhelming number of restaurants go bankrupt at even the best of times. Consequently, there won’t be a lot of ongoing public sympathy and financial support for an industry that seems to carry such perceived high risk.

If you want to get your head around the balancing act between pandemics and economic decisions, grab a coffee and read this article from the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Ma.

Just like statistics for Covid-19, stats for restaurants are also confusing and improperly skewed. The truth is, in good times not as many restaurants close as news media would like you to believe. Here’s why it’s so hard to follow; A “simple” Google search (*see below) reveals that 60% of restaurants close in the first year, and a whopping 90% close within five years.

*Fortunately, these stats are NOT true.

A good rule-of-thumb is to start with correct information. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that only 17% of restaurants close in their first year, which isn’t any higher than most service businesses. It’s important to know the real numbers so you can make good decisions. Instead of quitting, it might be worth rethinking your position, and adapting. Covid is a serious challenge for everyone, as you can see in Shutting Down a Dreama must read for restaurateurs, but it could also be lucrative if you change your approach.

A survey from Restaurants Canada reports that if conditions remain the same for much longer, more than half of B.C.’s restaurants don’t expect to survive the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, things are improving incrementally.

Small eateries and seniors are the most susceptible to the ravages of the novel coronavirus. In a Twilight Zone/Black Mirror kind-of-way, voluntary culling of seniors is being touted by outlier politicians as a way to save the economyyou go first. News media love this stuff and still secretly abide by If it bleeds it leads, which was a meme decades before Trump leveraged FAKE to further political ambitions. Many professional media critics have been warning the public of news media manipulation for a long time, but until recently most people chose not to listen because they didn’t think it affected them directly. I was a media analyst for over twenty years and regularly wrote crisis media newsletters that were read by thousands of c-suite executives and politicians, including a dozen U.S. senators plus MBA students at Harvard Law School, so I know quite clearly that BIASED NEWS affects all of us.

Some of the more established independent eateries that have deep pockets, and who own their properties, plus most big restaurant chains will survive, but in order to do so they will have to make radical systemic changes to their culture and how they manage staff and customers.

If you have to pick between “cleanliness” or a “bustling” eatery, the choice is easy.

Food SAFETY has already become the #1 differentiating factor between competitors.

Overnight, food safety is a really big deal, especially for grandma and grandpa, and kids with asthma.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that customers will have to sign a waiver indemnifying service companies from liability regarding exposure to the virus while on their properties or while consuming their products. Most likely though, it will be on a sign at the front door, or in small print on receipts and the backs of tickets.

Restaurants that can afford to reopen will at first limit their seating capacities because it’s the quickest and cheapest recourse–it’s happening already. Some restaurants will even install thermal devices at their doors to monitor staff and customers–if you have a fever you’ll be barred. Some will also pressure staff and customers to use CONTACT TRACKING devices so you will know automatically when someone who has tested positive for CV19 is sitting next to you, but that comes with a serious downside of being able to track a person everywhere they go. Employers can also use it to monitor when and where their staff are working, and if they came into contact with someone who tested positive and is an active carrier, again, also invasive.

Tech Monitoring & Tracking will become the NEW abNORMAL – even though it isn’t foolproof.

On the supplier side of the food industry, the same thing will happen with farm workers, plus, new restrictions will be placed on immigrant workers whether they are picking berries or processing poultry. Canadian workers might soon become the better economic choice for menial labour, which will drive production costs and retail prices through the roof – stories from small scale fisheries.

Don’t be surprised to also see mid-level food processors and restaurant chains consider some sort of consolidation/amalgamation to survive. It happened in other industries in relatively recent history when companies like music, book, and newspaper companies had to deal with unexpected challenges from a new thing called the internet in the 90’s. Many large corporations partnered with their competitors in an effort to source supplies and amortize costs.

Amalgamations do however carry substantial legal risk.

Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine”  … still good advice today.

Amid all this covid chaos, you might be thinking that things will never change for the better, but if you look closely you’ll see there is a swelling of resistance in China at a systemic level by Chinese citizens. Barriers are being stretched as criticism of the Communist Party of China CPC/CCP grows at an unprecedented rate, even to the point where some feel it could trigger a world military war. That scenario however isn’t generating much traction because it’s so inflammatory.

The threat does however exist for a Cold War.

Take a look at this article to clearly understand how Covid-19 has affected fisheries and the seafood industry, and how we are all connected.

United States is having considerably greater challenges than Canada. It’s valuable to watch them closely.

Thankfully, Canada is handling emergency food production better than most countries, but there is still considerable room for improvement. Canadians are cooking at home more, which means the supply chain has to shift quickly from supplying restaurants to delivering food to grocer’s shelves. The last mile is always a challenge regardless of the industry. Seafood is no exception, especially when you consider the seafood FRESH aspect. Over the long term, technology like IPFS blockchain running on the distributed web will streamline and improve supply chains, but for today we still rely on outdated enterprise networks running on spindly HTML.

A few seafood companies are now experimenting with blockchain for small enterprises which allow small companies to compete directly, and AFFORDABLY, with big players using disruptive marketing techniquesif you don’t understand this process reach out with your questions.

I want to close with a message from my boy Bieb, I’m Canadian too and in a past career worked in the entertainment industry selling millions of recordings and concert tickets around the world for one of Canada’s most popular female crooners. I’m biased of course, but it’s clear that music artists know better than anyone how to reach a crowd. Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande in less than a week scored almost 30 million YouTube hits with their new Covid-inspired duet Stuck With U … enjoy

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

New World in an Old Suit

Catastrophe brings opportunity … for those who look!

I’m not downplaying the covid tragedy because too many have already died.

It is time however to take a fresh breath and clear your mind of negativity.

I’m also not talking about capitalizing on sparse supplies like PPE and toilet paper.

I’m not even talking about the clichéd “silver lining”.

I’m talking about what happens when the furor dies down and we venture out into deep water.

Part of the problem with fisheries and the seafood industry is that we’ve been operating on borrowed time for quite a while, à la “Dead Fish Walking.” We all know it, but most still refuse to acknowledge that WE ALL helped contribute to seafood challenges – including consumers.

Overfishing isn’t a myth, although WHO is doing it … is.

In a former career I produced shows in many of the main rooms in Vegas, at venues like Caesar’s Palace and Harrah’s. Each time a recession hit, many casinos scrambled to rebuild. Quite literally, sometimes, they would blow up old casinos and build brand new. Mostly though, they simply rebuilt the gaming areas.

When you have no customers for reasons beyond your control, leverage the downtime and rebuild!

One of the most popular restaurants in White Rock, BC, Charlie Don’t Surf is renovating and will be ready for post-covid crowds.

It was always easy to spot the casinos who were struggling. They were the companies doing nothing except waiting for the crowds to return. The real heavy hitters shifted gears quickly and prepared for the return of crowds.

When Covid arrived in week one, I immediately began rebranding my offering and rebuilding my web presence.

Like everyone, I naively thought, and hoped Covid-19 would only impact us for a couple of weeks, but it quickly became apparent after watching Italy that we were in for a long haul. It spurred me on to reinvent everything I knew about fisheries and seafood.

I was disappointed like everyone because I was in the middle of a new fisheries project that had already absorbed all of my time for several months, and I was concerned it would stall. Then, I realized; EVERYONE is in the same boat and the tide was dropping rapidly.

I also realized that no one, not even the most in-tune c-suite executives knew what was about to happen, although some did recognize it was time to rebuild.

My specialty is rebuilding struggling companies and organizations, so maybe I was looking harder, but by now, if you haven’t figured this out too, you really need to step back and rethink the challenge for a moment.

There are so many things that need FIXING in FISHERIES that it’s a bit hard to even know where to start. My advice in this respect is to change what you have control over, and leave the big stuff to the collective, and to governments.

Ask yourself what YOU can do TODAY to improve the elements of fisheries and seafood where you’re the most involved and invested. Be the change the world needs and take advantage of this temporary downtime to reinvent yourself.

In several months we’ll be able to see who was proactive, and who sat around moaning and playing solitaire. Personally, I’m so busy in this downturn I can’t even find time to sleep.

By the time we were one month into the slowdown my head was spinning so fast with new ideas I couldn’t keep up.

In retrospect, seven weeks of slowdown in my region has clarified the water and helped me see what needs to be done and what is feasible. We have a special challenge with Covid because it’s kept us apart, at least physically, but our phones, Zoom, and Skype still work and allow us to meet virtually to plan, and in some cases also execute.

Everyone now knows that how the world markets food, especially the western world, will change dramatically.

Supply chains are being turned inside out.

How will it affect you?

Are you prepared?

We’re already seeing very serious deviations in other industries, like the movie business for example. Feature films like Trolls World Tour and Planet of the Humans are bypassing movie theaters and going straight to digital, and it’s causing huge concern with movie theater owners. The reality though, is that like fishers, processors, and distributors, there isn’t much theater owners can do except change how they do business. Once a customer takes a leap into a new style of product delivery it’s incredibly hard to draw them back to their old ways. Movie theaters won’t become obsolete overnight, but they are going to have to work even harder to keep an even smaller crowd interested. The same will happen with seafood.

Covid has ramped up online ordering in the supply chain, and it’s eating away at brick and mortar rapidly. Online marketing has been simmering in the background for years with many companies waiting until critical mass signaled a time to move. The time is now.

Six weeks ago we began daydreaming of a time when we could return to normal. Four weeks ago we realized there would never be a normal, and we called it the “NEW NORMAL.”

Today, take NORMAL off your radar.

Relations with China and the world are deteriorating with citizens in almost every western country demanding to cut ties and focus more energy on forging relationships with countries that reflect similar cultural and political views. The overarching goal for many is to produce goods domestically in their respective countries. It’s a nice thought, but it could easily take a decade to develop and build new manufacturing networks.

If you do business in China, get ready for a sea change.

If you thought it was challenging yesterday, tomorrow will be exponentially complex and frustrating.

Many smaller companies will not survive. Some are already bowing out before they lose everything. In the past, during shake ups like this, many companies amalgamated in order to survive, and the same is starting to happen today.

Some companies are in PREDATORY MODE and buying up shares of struggling companies. Live Nation and Carnival Cruises recently saw massive investments from Saudi Arabia, but there will be more, many more.

The moral here is that change drives change, and if you’re not flexible, you’ll be in trouble!

Survival of the fittest does not mean what people often think. The adage is often mistakenly attributed to Darwin, and in part he was the catalyst, but he was referring to single cell creatures and how they constantly adapt to their surroundings – similar to the novel corona virus.

It is not the strongest,
or the most intelligent that survive.
It is the one most adaptable to change

Words to live by …  literally.

Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.

Crowd Psych in a C-19 Capitalism Crisis

Before I deep dive into the covert machinations of influence and news media message massaging, click here for an update for seafood producers, whether wild capture fishers or aquaculture farmers. It’s a statement from Bernadette Jordan, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard.

The fisheries industry in Canada imploded in large part when China shut its borders – very little is going in or out. China purchases more Canadian seafood than any country in the world. Consequently, when Asia struggles for breath, Canadian seafood producers also gasp for air.

Minister Jordan and her team have been scrambling since the pandemic took hold. You can see the results of some of their work in the links at the bottom of this article. The information applies to almost all businesses, including fisheries that require special considerations.

The Covid-19 common sense rule of thumb is to FIRST take care of yourself and your family, and then your business. Our goal as Canadians is to get through this together. If you’ve never trusted the government in the past, you might want to relax your bias a bit and clear your mind so you can focus on the task at hand. One step at a time is good advice for everyone in these perilous times.

The blame game is incredibly dangerous today because it distracts you from doing the right things to protect yourself and your company.

Relaying critical information and keeping people calm is a leadership skill that can be learned. It helps if you also possess a natural affinity for empathy, or … if it at least looks like you care.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump are polar opposites in this regard. Trudeau cultivates calm while Trump plants panicboth leadership strategies can be effective, but the latter has serious long term ramifications.

Our Canadian prime minister injects valuable and compassionate health science information into his democratic messages, while the U.S. commander in chief, who self-named his position, “wartime president” … plays off of patriotism and capitalism.

The USA is fully immersed in a 2020 social experiment the world is watching closely, especially Canadians who share a very long border with the US – 8,891k/5,525m. We’ve heard for decades that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada gets a cold. Historically, the aphorism is reflective of the economic relationship between our two countries, today however, Canadians are also taking it literally. Many Canadians believe it’s in our best interest to protect ourselves from a neighbor that had not taken the globally coronavirus pandemic as seriously as we have in Canada. From a world perspective, news reports claim Trump reacted slowly in highly critical areas, many say recklessly. It’s too soon though, to tell in the absolute, if he’s a mad genius, or just mad.

We’ll all know in thirty days.

Great leaders are proactive,
and not
shoot-from-the-hip reactive.

Hopefully, for the sake of Canadians, and Americans of course, Trump is an exception.

I hesitate to refer to Covid-19 statistics because EVERYONE has their own accounting system. At this stage, the numbers are incredibly chaotic. When you’re talking about profit margins, fudging the numbers is not a really big deal. Morally however, when lives are at risk, misrepresentation is criminal, although you would never know it by today’s crisis reporting standards.

Trudeau and Trump use very different psychological strategies to manage their audiences.

One is calming and informative, and the other manipulative and coarse.

Both hide more than they know in order to prevent widespread panic, which is a responsible position taken by many political leaders. People are already scared and need to be assured that those in charge have a plan and that life will soon return to relative normal.  

Psychological crowd persuasion has been an intellectual artform since time immemorial. Unless you’re a dictator, there is usually little benefit to heightening fear.

Politicians often mistakenly believe that they are the masters of the mediacom universe, but the reality is that musicians take the top spot by a very large margin. Music entertainers manage crowd consciousness better than any group. John Mayer’s Drone Shot from My Yacht is a good example –950,000+ views on day one. U.S. presidents leverage the popularity of entertainers because it’s the fastest and most cost-effective way to build/buy an audience.

In an early career I ran point on operations and promotions for a global star who sold tens of millions of albums and concert tickets worldwide. The act I co-managed dominated the top ten Billboard position for over a decade on both the pop and country charts. A series of cross-over hits quickly pushed us to “superstar” status. Our crowd consciousness strategies were carefully designed to hook Hollywood talk show producers. We worked projects with two U.S. presidents as well as Fortune 100 companies, and learned from them all, as they did from us. We sold out Radio City Music Hall in NYC countless times, plus the 65,000 seat Houston Astrodome and every major city and whistle-stop across Canada, the U.S., and around the globe. Success like that is all about managing the message effectively.

Landing a hit song is literally about having everyone in the world, industry and fans, sing your new song all at the same time. You do it by appealing to and managing the target audience’s emotions. The challenge is to draw everyone into YOUR world and convince them into believing that you not only have the best song, but that you are the best act to deliver it. There are many one-hit-wonders who luck into it, and fall out just as quickly. We “made” our luck, and nailed hit after hit for almost two decades. They all weren’t #1, but they were top ten, which means we were audience top of mind in a pool of very exclusive entertainers. Unlike Trump’s grandiose self-proclamations, we didn’t refer to ourselves as superstars, but we did wear the accolade with pride. Humility, ironically, is one reason we had hit after hit, year upon year. Unlike many of our peers, we focused on long-term goals. “Never let your short term greed get in the way of your long term greed.” anonymous

I know from first hand experience over many decades that when you’re top of mind it means you’re trusted, and when you’re trusted you can say almost anything and your core fans will happily go along for the ride. Leaders like Trudeau and Trump know this clearly. One of my tasks as an entertainment manager was to help formulate a message and disseminate it to the world. We got pretty good at it after issuing thousands of media releases resulting in thousands of interviews. We learned from America’s best Hollywood and NYC agents. We also knew how to obscure information, and how to manipulate a message using news media in a way that brought us closer to our diversified audience.

In a later second career, I wrote and produced business newsletters about strategies to manage news reporters during a media crisis. The newsletters were read by thousands of c-level executives and high ranking politicians, including a dozen U.S. senators, plus MBA students at Harvard Law School. When our clients got into PR trouble, through no fault of their own or due to an innocent mistake, we taught spokespeople how to manage the message to ensure that their side of the story was fairly represented. I wrote this newsletter for almost twenty years and can attest that Trudeau is a master at delivering messages and gets critical information across so his audience feels heard and respected. Does he hit the bullseye every time. No, but who does? Whether the information is accurate is for you to decide. The point is that Trudeau delivers information in a manner that helps Canadians understand as much as he and his team need the public to know at the time.

The secret to managing a wide-cross-section crowd, which is what Covid-19 represents – old and young of all persuasions, is to not alienate your followers. Quite literally, “don’t piss anyone off” was our motto. Relatively speaking, in the world of music, it’s often less complicated to land the first hit because it’s a formula. The challenge however is duplicating your success, and that’s where the not pissing someone off edict comes into play. Once you have a fan in your corner, your main job is to keep them, and to grow your crowd on top of this base. Growing a crowd is rooted in a cumulative algorithm. Trudeau and Trump both get this in their own unique ways. Trudeau designs his message for all intellectual aptitudes, while Trump primarily targets the lowest common denominator.

It’s critical to conscript your early fans, the real diehards, to sing your praises, and the best way to do it is through trust and consistency. Early first fans, trust that along the way you will keep delivering the same message, but different, but not too different. The different part is important because humans get bored easily. It’s one reason the news cycle lasts about four weeks for big events. Usually, it’s one week though before news companies shift to the next crisis. Politicians in trouble often jump on the next crisis in the breech … or they create one. Like magicians, they are masters at misdirection.

Trump is extremely adept in this regard.

A new crisis distracts voters from an old crisis.

It’s important to conscript your early followers to evangelize your message. Both Trudeau and Trump do this exceedingly well. Trudeau’s style is to bring people together through a common message, while Trump polarizes and bullies people into following his lead. Both styles work in a relatively normal environment, but considering the pandemic panic permeating the world today, it will be interesting to see which strategy will contribute to saving the most lives.

Incredulously, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick thinks that American seniors should be willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of the economy, and Trump seems to be mimicking the sentiment, although he hasn’t said it in so many words. He does maintain however that the cure should not be harsher than the disease – and by cure he means economic cure, not health. It’s a platitude many support, but is America really ready to let grandma slip quietly into the night so the U.S. can be Great Again!?  

Patrick said “I’m all in.”

For the record, “I’m all out.” (Full disclosure, I’m a grandparent and would die for my grandkids or kids, and maybe even you depending on the circumstances, but never for the economy. I’m selfish that way.)

Trump, half-surprisingly, is not at all arguing against Patrick’s ludicrous musing that seniors wouldn’t mind volunteering to sacrifice their lives for the economy. Patrick argues that because seniors no longer directly contribute to the economy and are ostensibly a pandemic liability, that they should step aside, graciously of course.  Of course.

Kids, at least for the moment in America are still safe, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that a child’s contribution to the American economy will also soon be re-evaluated.

Considering that Trump proclaims himself a wartime president, he obviously believes he’s at war. And as we all know, all is fair in love and war, which is code for justifying the dismantling of morality.

Many Americans believe Trump is acting rationally.

Some argue that Patrick was just ruminating out loud and that he doesn’t actually hold true to his statement. In my humble opinion, based on my decades of influencing the emotions of enormous global audiences; What Patrick injected into the conversation was more than a brain fart. He planted a seed that draws on the same obscure communications tactics that public relations specialists have used for decades – the hard part in any promotional campaign is introducing a new subject into the lexicon. Dropping a bomb like that was old school military.

Usually, the more controversial an idea, the better it is to introduce it in a passive aggressive way. It’s easy to back away saying, “I didn’t mean it literally and in ‘that’ context.”

The point is, the “seniors suicide” conversation has started, and anyone listening, trolls especially, will run with it. Take a look at what most people think about sacrificing seniors.

Old Boy’s Club Americans don’t hesitate to make sacrifices when the going gets tough. Back in the day it was young non-white men on the front lines. Today, it’s seniors limping towards the light who are going to die at some point anyway, so it might as well be now. A dollar is a dollar.



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Maurice Cardinal has been a fisheries marketing and communications advisor and writer in British Columbia for almost a decade and has worked with leading organisations, NGOs, and governments in Canada and abroad.