Orono, Maine – The United States Department of Agriculture, NOAA Fisheries and the University of Maine have launched a unique partnership to better understand how American fishermen market their catch. The partnership will increase understanding of the scope and scale of local and regional seafood marketing practices nationally and help remove barriers to direct marketing for the commercial fishing industry.
Over the next year, project partners will develop a national baseline survey on direct seafood marketing practices in national wild-caught fisheries with the aim of strengthening food systems and the resilience of coastal communities. . The USDA already collects direct marketing data on farms and ranches. Although NOAA Fisheries collects fisheries data as part of its mission to manage the country’s ocean resources, including fisheries, based on sound science, it has not collected marketing specific data. direct. The UMaine School of Marine Sciences is home to the Local Catch Network, a community of fishermen, researchers and consumers committed to delivering local, healthy, low-impact, and economically sustainable seafood directly to fishermen who, with feedback from broader industry participants, help shape the survey.
“Currently there is a data gap at the national level on the national seafood system,” says Joshua Stoll, one of the project’s lead researchers and assistant professor of maritime policy at UMaine who heads the Local Catch Network.
The collaboration will give researchers, policymakers and the fishing industry insight into the marketing strategies of fishing companies, given the ever-changing nature of fishing regulations and new stressors due to change. climate and pandemic. The goal is to support the flexibility and resilience in the fisheries sector needed to continue to deliver nutritious and sustainably harvested seafood to the nation.
âNational seafood markets are of crucial importance for the resilience of coastal communities, food security and jobs, and therefore for sustainable fisheries,â says Patricia Pinto da Silva, one of the NOAA Fisheries co-leads on the project and a social scientist at NOAA Fisheries Northeast. Fisheries Science Center.
âLearning more about alternative market strategies is essential for understanding how to add value to the industry’s products and remain viable,â says Dale Squires, NOAA Fisheries Project Co-Leader and Senior Economist at NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
The impact of sales of wild seafood in the United States exceeded $ 144 billion in 2015. Seafood is a vital part of the country’s food system, but surprisingly little is known about what happens to them. fish, crustaceans and other marine organisms that were once used on people’s plates. they’ve landed and come into the market, says Stoll. Collecting this data will help inform fishermen, researchers and policy makers of the state of direct marketing efforts and the characteristics of these consumers and traders. They will be useful for future investments, by guiding targeted technical support and identifying the impacts of new regulations or climate change on this sector.
In addition, many traditional export markets have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of direct marketing of seafood as a socio-economic security issue in order to protect against future system shocks and ensure food security. To increase their income and remain economically viable, many wild fishing companies have turned to marketing their catches in high value-added niche markets, which are not yet fully understood.
Collecting comparable data in the agricultural sector has long been a priority for the USDA. The Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 forced the USDA to collect data from direct marketing farmers. In 2015, the USDA expanded its efforts to collect data on direct agricultural sales and established the Survey of Local Food Marketing Practices.
Data from these surveys have been found to be critical in justifying USDA funding for small and medium-sized farms engaged in local and direct marketing. This includes $ 27 million in fiscal 2020 through the Farmers Markets Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. Having similar data on seafood could help federal, state and local agencies to devote more resources to fishing.
âWe have found that baseline data is essential for strengthening local and regional food systems because it helps make them more visible,â says Edward Ragland of Agricultural Marketing Services.
The first phase of the project focuses on work in the NOAA fishing regions to compile a list of seafood companies involved in local and direct seafood sales, and design the survey.
methodology. The success of the effort, piloted as a national model, will depend on the collaboration, awareness and contribution of active commercial wild seafood fishermen who distribute their catch in direct markets.
In support of this work, the NOAA Bureau of Fisheries for Sustainable Fisheries awarded the University of Maine a grant of $ 142,824 through the Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic. The US Department of Agriculture is contributing an additional $ 24,222 to the project.
University of Maine: Joshua Stoll, [email protected]
NOAA Fisheries: Patricia Pinto da Silva, [email protected]; Dale Squires [email protected]
USDA Agricultural Marketing Services: Edward Ragland, [email protected]