The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $50,616 in grant funding to three projects to help the Commonwealth’s local seafood industry sell fresh, locally-caught products to Massachusetts consumers through promotion and awareness campaigns. The grants, awarded through the Division of Marine Fisheries’ (DMF) Seafood Marketing Grant Program, will enhance the viability and stabilize the economic environment of Massachusetts’ local commercial fishing and seafood industries while driving economic activity in coastal communities.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “Massachusetts’ historic fishing industry is an essential sector of the economy in our state, and these projects will help support commercial fishermen in the Commonwealth. These grants build on our Administration’s recent $56 million investment to combat food insecurity, and will help expand and create markets of Massachusetts-caught seafood by raising awareness among consumers.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said, “Through funding these projects, we are helping to drive consumer demand for fresh, local seafood products, and provide needed support for a significant industry in Massachusetts’ local food economy. These grants will support coastal communities and the Commonwealth’s entire seafood workforce, including processors, wholesalers, retailers, and restaurants.”

The awarded projects will support the commercial seafood and fishing industries, as well as coastal communities, by increasing awareness and demand for local seafood products from Massachusetts through education, promotion, research, and marketing. Priority was given to proposals that would benefit the Commonwealth’s seafood industry as a whole. Project outcomes, materials created, and reporting from the projects will provide information and insight to those in the region doing work with similar goals.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides called the funding awards “especially timely as our commercial fishermen and local seafood industry continue to work hard to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 emergency and help our state respond to this crisis by strengthening our local food system.  This is a great time for Massachusetts residents to support this historic industry by purchasing fresh, local fish and shellfish caught right off our coast.”

Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon said the program “supports local projects that raise demand for sustainable, healthy, local seafood in Massachusetts. Through education, awareness, and promotion, this program raises demand for the fantastic local food options available to Massachusetts residents.”

Division of Marine Fisheries Director Dan McKiernan said the program “continues to further the promotion of our local seafood products, and inform consumers about their availability, health benefits, and more. We look forward to working with the project teams to support our commercial fishermen during this challenging time.”

The following project received grants:

$13,376 – Eating with the Ecosystem: Real-Time Seafood Marketing: Synchronizing Supply and Demand in a Dynamic Environment

The project will support Massachusetts’ fishing and seafood communities by developing a crowdsourcing and consumer mobilization platform to test methods for real-time seafood purchasing advice, with the goal of making the state’s retail marketplace rapidly adaptable to variation in supply of local species.

$31,240 – Our Wicked Fish, Inc.: A Blueprint for Marketing Local Seafood at Colleges & Universities

Our Wicked Fish and UMass Dining will conduct a month-long campaign for New England-caught seafood at UMass Amherst in October (National Seafood Month). Components of the campaign will include social media content, on-campus contests, online giveaways, meet-n-greets with fishers, and could also include events such as a film screening, fish cutting demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, and brief before-and-after online survey.

$6,000 – New Bedford Port Authority: Marketing New Bedford Seafood Internationally & Locally

New Bedford Port Authority will update its website and develop additional features that (1) market the New Bedford-based businesses to international buyers, and (2) further educate local and regional residents about locally landed species. This website will also support the Commonwealth by highlighting and sharing content about species that are landed throughout New England.

DMF’s Seafood Marketing Program works to educate the public about seafood availability, preparation, health benefits, economic contribution and environmental sustainability through printed materials, events, partnerships and more. Legislators, agency heads and industry members comprise the program’s steering committee.

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.