Since the mid-1990s funding for seafood industry research has been cut significantly, and important research and product development facilities have closed altogether. Saltonstall-Kennedy federal research grants have been reduced by more than 85 percent since the 1980s.1 Similar funding for cooperative fisheries research is not available from the State. Two research laboratories closed in the mid-1990s. One remaining research center in Gloucester has limited its research scope to species with already strong markets, and has reduced its focus on seafood product research and development.2 As the Massachusetts fishing community has faced significant challenges from foreign seafood trade’s domination of the industry, the limitations to seafood research and funding have further complicated the industry’s ability to respond.
A comprehensive research strategy is essential to identifying priorities to sustain local fishing operations. Broadly, this research should include a thorough assessment of the seafood supply chain, which examines the complex challenges of the industry. Specifically, local seafood advocates have already identified some opportunities in market and product development for underutilized finfish species, like Arcadian redfish, dogfish, and scup. Such ongoing and new areas of research should be supported as an integral part of sustaining small fishing operations and growing local seafood supply.