As a coastal state with an abundant and diverse variety of fish species, all Massachusetts residents, regardless of income, should be able to find and afford local seafood in nearby stores and other venues. To date, seafood marketing efforts have been concerned with the viability of small fishing operations in the State, and increasing workforce earnings. To tackle the challenges of increasing affordability of seafood while also justly compensating fishing businesses, it will be necessary to develop a suite of strategies that include new market opportunities and subsidy and incentive programs.
While efforts to increase the affordability of local seafood lag behind efforts to increase affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables, advocates for affordable seafood can learn from successful models already in place for produce. Incentive programs that double customer purchasing capacity, direct to consumer marketing, distribution to schools and hospitals, and other models can be tailored to affordable seafood distribution.
Recommendation 3.1: Make locally caught seafood accessible and affordable.
Action 3.1.1: Promote locally caught fish species through established seafood outlets and distribution channels such as conventional grocery, retail, and fish markets.
Action 3.1.2: Support direct to consumer models for seafood sales, such as community supported fishery (CSF) programs. Support organizations that spur CSF development through education and technical assistance.
Action 3.1.3: Make local seafood eligible for purchase with consumer incentives programs, like Boston Bounty Bucks.
Action 3.1.4: Develop local seafood products for public schools, hospitals, prisons, and universities and increase distribution.
Action 3.1.5: Distribute sustainably-caught, local seafood to hunger relief organizations.
Action 3.1.6: Distribute local seafood at retail locations that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchases.
Action 3.1.7: Distribute fresh, whole fish to markets, with a focus on customers’ cultural preferences. This is a marketing strategy that reduces processing costs and delivers cost-savings to customers.
Action 3.1.8: Encourage the sale and consumption of lower-cost, underutilized species, like whiting, Arcadian redfish, dogfish, and scup in all markets.
Action 3.1.9: Promote safe recreational angling – including clamming, lobstering, and spear fishing – that enables individuals to fish for their own seafood. Facilitate this by developing urban access to fishing piers, and removing language barriers for permits.