The fishermen in the Gulf Coast region are hurting. A combination of factors have sent revenues sinking. Hurricanes and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, plus the increasing popularity of cheap imported seafood have wreaked havoc with the industry.
This situation was a major impetus behind the formation of a new alliance of seafood industry organizations, the National Seafood Marketing Coalition. As reported by Veronica Del Bianco of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, leaders from 24 states—from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico—met in Seattle recently to share expertise and find ways to spark seafood demand.
“It’s in the best interest of the U.S. to maintain a strong seafood industry for job growth,” said director of the coalition Bruce Schactler, quoted in the story by Del Bianco.
Schactler says industry wide marketing efforts will increase demand for seafood, bringing more jobs to the industry and growing the economy.
The coalition plans to set up a National Seafood Marketing Fund (NSMF) with $100 million per year going toward boosting consumer demand for U.S. seafood. The fund would be split among five proposed regional marketing boards, managed through a grant process for local control.
Potential sources for funding include import duties on fish products and contributions from oil production revenues. Much of the funding would go toward counteracting the current public perception that Gulf seafood is unsafe following this summer’s oil spill.
Chris Nelson, with Bon Secour Fisheries in Alabama, spoke of the perception problem faced by Gulf fisheries after the spill. “We are fighting are to counteract the images, more than the oil spill itself. Anything associated with the Gulf — its image, reputation and the brand — are tarnished,” Nelson said.
The Food Channel is bringing you recaps of some of the best stories from around the Web that will help us all learn more about the true situation in the Gulf. Stay with us as the story unfolds and let’s see what the future of food may look like in the wake of crisis.
Additional stories below.