This week the Baker-Polito Administration announced $116,034 in grants for research projects that 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.

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 seafood companies presenting together at the show to highlight the sustainability, diversity, and economic impact of the Commonwealth’s fisheries.

Governor Charlie Baker the state’s “commercial fishing industry and fishing ports contribute greatly to the Massachusetts economy. 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.”

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

Secretary Beaton said the Commonwealth’s seafood industry “employs about 100,000 people and has an economic impact of $2 billion. 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.”

Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon said the Seafood Marketing Program “supports the state’s commercial fishing and seafood industries and communities through many efforts, including the seafood marketing grant program.”

Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux said that Massachusetts “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.”

Massachusetts Avenue was organized by DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries and the Department of Agricultural Resources. 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.

DMF Director David Pierce said 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.”

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.