At an historic meeting in Seattle in December, representatives from local seafood industry organizations from 24 states met to agree on a plan for a national seafood marketing coalition.
Seafood promotion has typically been regional in the U.S. Groups such as the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion Board, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), the Catfish Institute, the Southern Shrimp Alliance and others all have been active in promoting domestic seafood using various sources of funding.
A national seafood marketing coalition would combine efforts to market U.S. seafood in the U.S., promoting job retention, growth and economic development in fishing-related industries in more than 24 states. The coalition gathered industrywide support for the development of a National Seafood Marketing Fund (NSMF).
The NSMF will be distributed among five regional marketing boards—Western Pacific (Hawaii)/Alaska, Pacific, Gulf/Caribbean, NE Atlantic/Great Lakes and SE/Mid-Atlantic.
The goal is to fund the development of broad-based, sustainable marketing strategies within each region that will grow consumer demand for domestic seafood, increase its value and strengthen the U.S. seafood economy through industrywide job growth. The key to this proposal is local control rather than that of operational oversight from an agency outside of the region. The coalition is working on national legislation that will direct a long-term, sustainable source of funding to the NSMF that will help finance industrywide marketing efforts across the nation. A steering committee is being created with three delegates from each of the five regions.
To date, 46 letters of support have been sent to Congressional leaders from around the U.S. urging Congress to act on legislation to create a National Seafood Marketing Fund.
Dane Somers, executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, said, “The coalition has the right plan, at the right time, for all the right reasons. It’s time the country comes together for a common purpose, to express their strong desires to help each other to create new markets, provide stronger benefits and make sure that all Americans have healthy, safe, sustainable seafood products from local sources.”