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Grants to Support Promotion of Massachusetts Seafood Industry

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $116,034 in grants for research projects that will support efforts to increase awareness and demand for Massachusetts seafood products. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton announced the grants at the Seafood Export North America Trade Show while cutting a ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the first “Massachusetts Avenue,” a collection of several of the state’s seafood companies presenting together at the show, organized by two EEA agencies to highlight the sustainability, diversity, and economic impact of the Commonwealth’s fisheries.

“The Commonwealth’s commercial fishing industry and fishing ports contribute greatly to the Massachusetts economy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By supporting these research projects, our Administration is proud to provide the fishing industry the most thorough and up-to-date information possible to better promote sustainably-harvested local seafood.”

“Through programs like the Seafood Marketing Grant Program, our Administration is working to ensure the continued vibrancy of our coastal communities and food economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The seafood marketing grants announced today will support the research and advocacy needed to increase awareness and demand for Massachusetts seafood products.”

The grants were awarded through the Division of Marine Fisheries’ (DMF) Seafood Marketing Grant Program, created three years ago to enhance the viability and stabilize the economic environment for local commercial fishing and seafood industries and communities.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting the continued viability of the Commonwealth’s seafood industry, which employs about 100,000 people and has an economic impact of $2 billion,” said EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This year, our Seafood Marketing Grant Program is focused on funding research to ensure new information will be available to those working in our commercial fishing and seafood industries.”

The following projects received grants:

$25,000 – Fishing Partnership Support Services: Involving Massachusetts Fishermen in Seafood Traceability Programs

The Fishing Partnership will research current seafood traceability programs and present the information to fishermen and stakeholders across the Commonwealth to inform them of opportunities and technologies. The Fishing Partnership will conduct roundtable discussions to gather feedback concerning the most effective ways to increase participation in traceability programs so that fishermen can receive a premium price for their catch thus improving the economic security of Massachusetts fishing families.

$41,034 – Urban Harbors Institute at University of Massachusetts Boston: Developing Port Profiles and a Commercial Fishing Infrastructure Assessment for Massachusetts Coastal Harbors

Urban Harbors Institute will gather information for each fishing harbor in Massachusetts by conducting a survey, interviews, an analysis of existing data, and research to develop unique port profiles to ensure that the space, infrastructure, and amenity needs of the commercial fishing communities are met, and that decision-makers are informed about existing inventory so that municipalities and communities can have a benchmark and improve upon current conditions.

$50,000 – Michael T. Carroll and Josh Weirsma: Assessing Massachusetts Consumer Preferences to Purchase Local and Fully Traceable Seafood

The authors will create a survey tool to assess consumer preferences for local, fully traceable seafood to better understand the purchasing decisions and attitudes towards Massachusetts seafood products and attributes. The research will be administered to seafood shoppers at major supermarkets across different regions of the state to inform stakeholders about the New England ground fish market.

The research reports generated by the grant awardees will be spread statewide and beyond to inform the work of organizations, advocates, municipalities, and others about Massachusetts’ port infrastructure, consumer preferences for local seafood, and fishermen’s approach to traceability technology. The stakeholder engagement, literature reviews, and surveys done by the awardees will advance the efforts of those with similar goals as DMF.

“Support for the Massachusetts Avenue includes funding from our Seafood Marketing Program, which seeks to increase consumer awareness and preference for local seafood products,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon.”The program supports the state’s commercial fishing and seafood industries and communities through many efforts, including the seafood marketing grant program.”

“MDAR is pleased to have facilitated USDA funds to offset costs for the Massachusetts Avenue seafood businesses,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Bay State seafood companies have been awarded over $310,000 annually since 2011. MDAR has been accessing export market development programs and services for seafood through the USDA cooperator “Food Export” since 2004.”

The “Massachusetts Avenue,” organized by DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries and the Department of Agricultural Resources, aims to highlight the economic impact of the industry and the focus on sustainability while promoting this opportunity to meet customers. Massachusetts Avenue participants included: Aquacultural Research Corporation Hatchery (ARC), Dennis; Cape Seafoods, Gloucester; Intershell International , Gloucester; John Nagle Company, Boston; North Atlantic Pacific Seafood, Gloucester; Pangea Shellfish Company, Boston; Plymouth Rock Oyster Company, Plymouth; and Red’s Best, Boston. More than 40 other Massachusetts businesses promoted and sold seafood products at the Seafood Expo North America.

“We are proud to be participating in the Massachusetts Avenue, a showcase to communicate to the world our well managed and sustainable fisheries including scallops, oysters, striped bass and of course, lobster, clams, cod and haddock, as well as lesser known species such as black bass, scup and mackerel,” said Charles M. Nagle, Owner, The John Nagle Company. “As we begin our 132nd year of family ownership, we expect to continue supporting local fishermen and fisheries for many more years to come.”

DMF’s Seafood Marketing Program works to educate people on seafood availability, preparation, health benefits, economic contribution and environmental sustainability through printed material, events, partnerships and more.

“The Seafood Marketing Grant Program continues to further our knowledge of our local seafood, and strengthen our partnerships with the commercial fishing and seafood industries and families,” said DMF Director David Pierce.

“I appreciate any and all investments that can be made to highlight the important fishing industry in Massachusetts,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “These grants will help in long term planning for continued viability to make sure we have plenty of fish from the sea to our tables.”

“Our commercial fishing industry is not only an important part of our heritage, it is also critical for our future,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). That’s why it’s important that we invest in its evolution and adaptation, so that it can continue to support fishing families and fishing ports while providing a prime food source for our country.”

“The Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Steering Committee has been working diligently for ways to get the word out nationally and internationally that we have the best seafood in the world. In order to do that, we have to know what the consumer wants and utilize modern technology to deliver,” said State Representative Susan Gifford (R-Wareham). “We must also capitalize on the resources readily available and work on the underdeveloped areas that currently are not allowing us to reach our full potential. These grants will be instrumental in providing information we need, and I thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their commitment to this very valuable part of our economy.”

“I am proud to see Massachusetts’ seafood industry continues to remain at the forefront of innovation and expansion,” said State Representative Paul Schmid III (D-Westport). “By investing in local companies and research, we are working to improve the sustainability of the commonwealth’s blue economy which has been nationally recognized as one of the best.”

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. DFG, with its divisions including the Division of Marine Fisheries, carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.