Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

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Howard Johnson

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP)
Purpose Prize Fellow 2010

Johnson unites environmentalists, activists, government officials and fishing companies to promote sustainable fishing practices and protect international seafood supplies.

After decades of working as a consultant to large commercial seafood companies, Howard Johnson wrote a white paper in the 1990s entitled, Seafood Sustainability: Why Industry Needs to get Engaged. In it, he suggested that the seafood industry needed to consider working more closely with the nascent conservation community rather than opposing their initiatives.

Johnson’s stance created a stir and the reaction worried him. Would he lose industry clients? Deciding to keep working toward sustainability behind the scenes, Johnson anonymously authored a global guide for the seafood industry that helped conservationist organizations better understand how the industry worked.

As industry players realized there was a business case for adopting sustainable practices, Johnson decided to take the leap and forge an encore career. In 2007 Jim Cannon, the CEO of the San Francisco-based Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, convinced Johnson – 25 years Cannon’s senior – that he needed Johnson’s background, contacts and knowledge to help fulfill the mission of Cannon’s newly formed nongovernmental organization.

Johnson recalls: “Many of my colleagues in the seafood industry where surprised when I shut down my consulting business and referred further business to others. However, it was the right decision.”

Traveling the world, Johnson now advises CEOs and village fisherman alike, discussing sustainability across the supply chain and helping to develop new industry guidelines.