In recent decades fishing communities have been in decline. Massachusetts’ seafood industry needs greater collaboration to define solutions for its future. The sectors are disjointed and have little insight into the realities and opportunities across areas from fishing to processing to retail. Businesses within the same sectors see each other as competitors and rarely as potential collaborators. Other stakeholders in the seafood system, including fishery businesses, scientists, and government could benefit from increased communication and information-sharing.
While the industry is largely disjointed, some entities are paving the way for increased collaboration toward strengthening the local fishing economy. Some wholesale dealers, like Red’s Best, are working to enhance the sale of locally caught fish to institutions through collaborative efforts with The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and Health Care Without Harm. These two organizations are also working together to shape effective consumer education and messaging for local seafood served in hospitals. Going forward, conversations need to engage more stakeholders, and traditionally competitive businesses and disparate groups will need to strategize together on building markets, streamlining distribution, and leveraging other opportunities for Massachusetts’ seafood.
Recommendation 4.1: Build collaborative networks and ensure fishing industry representation in government and policy arenas.
Action 4.1.1: Create a seat for the MFPC Advisory Committee for a representative of the fishing industry.
Action 4.1.3: Support and collaborate with the DMF’s shellfish advisory panel to establish an interagency committee to review and update shellfish regulations and policies. The committee should also be informed by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference.
Action 4.1.4: Build collaborative networks comprised of a range of State agencies including the DMF, MDAR, MassDEP, DPH, and the Massachusetts Office of Business Development to develop and implement strategies that grow the local seafood system.
Action 4.1.5: Build collaborative networks comprised of a range of businesses, organizations, and institutions with interest and stake in development of the local seafood system.
Action 4.1.7: Create and maintain a database to enable coordination and collaboration between the multitude of organizations and institutions with ties to local commercial fishing.
Action 4.1.8: Conduct an assessment of the local seafood system to identify opportunities and gaps in the industry. Share data and findings with local seafood industry stakeholders.