Seacoast fishermen and individuals connected with local seafood sales recently convened to discuss ways to integrate their local marketing efforts in the coming year.
2013 was a year of transition for many associated with the commercial fishing industry, yet the year also offered some hope for those willing to strategize new marketing methods and diversify their fishing efforts. N.H. Sea Grant produced a video summarizing the 2013 marketing effortsand another video about the lobster band project and its connection with marinedebris removal.
The most recent fisheries meeting, facilitated by Erik Chapman, NHSG/UNHCE commercial fisheries specialist, took place on Monday, March 10th from 6-8 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, N.H. The attendees began by discussing the latest news regarding dogfish. Despite their abundance in the Gulf of Maine waters, dogfish are not a sought-after species in the U.S., and thus fishermen do not receive much money for catching them. The lack of a domestic market coupled with the difficulty of processing dogfish — there is currently only one processor in New England that will take dogfish, and most fishermen say it’s not worth their time to process dogfish themselves aboard their boats — means that it will likely continue to be a challenge to capitalize on this resource.
Charlie French, UNHCE associate professor of social science, presented information from his N.H. Sea Grant-funded research regarding alternative seafood marketing to the meeting attendees, including more information about dogfish marketing. You can read more about this research.
Next, attendees provided updates about their fisheries-related efforts and initiatives:
· Although farmer’s markets do not provide much additional income for fishermen who bring their seafood there, farmer’s markets do provide an educational opportunity to help build consumer awareness about their products and this may ultimately translate into word-of-mouth advertising. Most of the attendees agreed that selling their products at farmer’s markets were therefore worthwhile.
· The N.H. Community Seafood CSF will operate once again this year, and they are hoping to deliver fresh seafood further inland in the Granite State. The CSF would like to deliver to more restaurants this year.
· There is a demand, particularly in the summer months, for clear and concise information about what fish to buy, where to buy it and what restaurants carry local seafood.
· Amanda Parks, a UNH senior, is developing a SmartPhone app called the “Seacoast Seafood Locator” as part of a capstone class project. The app would provide information including seafood retail markets, the types of local fish that are available, and when different species are available throughout the year. Amanda hopes to include other features, including cooking tips, recipes, nutrition information, and a GPS locator to guide app users to the nearest market. She hopes to have the app completed sometime this year.
· Spencer Montgomery, also a UNH senior, asked UNH Dining Services if they would be willing to offer local seafood on their dining hall menus regularly. The university is interested in doing so and will begin a 6-8 week pilot to test the long-term feasibility of this decision in the near future.
· Local lobstermen are interested in changing the laws that make frozen lobster tail meat illegal in N.H.—it’s legal to sell it in Maine and Massachusetts. They would also like to be able to sell the knuckle and claw meat.
· Yankee Fishermen’s Co-Op employees are trying to develop a breaded pollock fillet to sell in frozen form to Seacoast pubs and restaurants.
In addition to these updates, the group agreed to host another Seafood Kickoff in 2014 similar to what was held last year. Stay tuned as plans for the 2014 commercial fishing season unfold over the coming months.