The PlanSector

Fishing

Goal 2

The local seafood system will have strong markets, support livelihoods, and increase consumer demand.

Image courtesy of Anamarija Franki/Amy Costa

The State’s seafood industry has shifted from serving local and domestic markets, to serving primarily the export-driven commodity market. Fishermen face significant challenges, from price and market constraints to catch limitations. Market shifts in the seafood industry have made it increasingly difficult for small fishing, shellfish, and aquaculture operations to sustain themselves. As more of the fishing workforce nears retirement, there is also an anticipated labor shortage that compromises the industry’s future.

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Recommendations

  1. 2.1 Improve livelihood viability and prospects for the seafood industry workforce, including fishermen, lobstermen, shellfish harvesters, aquaculturalists, seafood processors, and researchers.
    1. Actions:
    2. 2.1.1 Ensure that fishermen’s access to commercial fisheries is maintained and improved.
    3. 2.1.2 Support new and established retail and wholesale infrastructure through low interest business loans or grants and other programs.
    4. 2.1.3 Implement a fisheries training curriculum that educates the fisheries labor force in the local seafood supply chain, and develops skills of small operators and processors, including in value chain education, sustainable high-tech gear, and alternative and low-energy boat design.
    5. 2.1.4 Provide fish and shellfish industry workforce with living wages and full time work, through such measures as diversifying and expanding markets or developing processing cooperatives. Markets for finfish and shellfish are different. As permitted for the different species, direct-to-consumer markets and wholesale markets should be expanded.
    6. 2.1.5 Ensure safe work environments and training and advancement opportunities for seafood processing workforce.
    7. 2.1.6 Support continuing leasing of shellfish aquaculture under municipal control for small, local harvesters and aquaculturists.
    8. 2.1.7 Support groundfish fishing fleets that range in size and gear type.
  2. 2.2 Increase consumer education on local seafood.
    1. Actions:
    2. 2.2.1 Fund, develop, and implement educational curriculum and events to increase consumer awareness of the benefits of eating fresh, local seafood, as well as precautions to take to ensure that fish eaten comes from unpolluted waters, and that exposure to heavy metals in fish is minimized. Revisit past New England Seafood Series programming by UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program, and consider rededicating funding.
    3. 2.2.2 Develop a toolkit for seafood marketers to easily educate their consumers.
  3. 2.3 Expand local seafood markets, product development, and seafood supply chain innovations.
    1. Actions:
    2. 2.3.1 Perform a review of regulations related to the seafood supply chain, and recommend reformation of those that are overly-restrictive or outdated.
    3. 2.3.2 Fund and ensure longevity of the DMF Seafood Marketing Program, steering committee, and coordinator position.
    4. 2.3.3 Where permitted for different species, open and expand markets for local seafood including: grocery stores; community supported fisheries programs; farmers markets; public markets; institutional distribution including to universities, colleges, hospitals, prisons, public schools; and wholesale distribution.
    5. 2.3.4 Create markets for diverse fish and shellfish species to encourage the harvesting of a range of fish and shellfish species to ensure stable livelihoods and ecological resiliency.
    6. 2.3.5 Expand the markets for a variety of locally-abundant fish species (i.e. Mackerel and Whiting), and lesser known species (i.e. Arcadian Redfish, Dogfish, and Scup) and invasive species (i.e. Green Crab which is threatening shellfish habitat).
    7. 2.3.6 Support value-added seafood product development. Examples include edible seafood products like smoked fish, or non-food products like fish emulsion fertilizer.
    8. 2.3.7 Determine feasibility and develop seafood innovation districts that include elements such as test kitchens, laboratories for developing value-added products and innovative technologies to recover and utilize waste, and start-up accelerators to develop new businesses. Include support systems such as active collaboration with food policy councils, grant writing, marketing studies, business planning, and early-stage financing.
    9. 2.3.8 Support seafood product development and innovation in culinary schools, and universities, colleges, and primary schools that operate culinary programs.
    10. 2.3.9 Support shellfish operations in diversifying the shellfish species farmed and harvested. These species could include quahogs, clams, mussels, oysters, and other shellfish.
    11. 2.3.10 Support growth of local businesses that aid in developing the local seafood supply chain. These could be businesses providing equipment, services, or other innovations that advance local seafood distribution.
  4. 2.4 Improve local seafood infrastructure and supply chain systems.
    1. Actions:
    2. 2.4.1 Expand and fund mechanisms for source-tracking for locally landed fish and shellfish, so that all fisheries in Massachusetts are tracking and recording details about their catches, and fisheries data is improved. Source tracking technology developed by the seafood distributor Red’s Best could be considered as a model.
    3. 2.4.2 Incentivize municipalities to encourage shellfish restoration and harvesting and sustainable aquaculture enterprise.
    4. 2.4.3 Upgrade and expand current aggregation methods, processing, facilities, and equipment, based on research and in the context of expanding the local seafood industry and building equity and sustainability into the value chain.