New website helps fishermen explore alternative marketing
By Deborah Seiler, California Sea Grant and Robin Garcia, National Sea Grant Office
California Sea Grant researchers, in collaboration with researchers from UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, have developed a website helping commercial fishermen connect more directly with consumers. Market Your Catch is the result of a three-year project funded by the National Sea Grant Social Science Research Initiative. Input from fishermen, buyers, harbor managers, and other experts was utilized in the creation of the website. The collaborative project also included help from staff at Oregon Sea Grant, Washington Sea Grant, North Carolina Sea Grant, New Hampshire Sea Grant, South Carolina Sea Grant, Alaska Sea Grant, and MIT Sea Grant. br>
The website provides information and guidance for fishermen looking to move towards alternative or direct marketing. In this type of marketing plan, fishermen sell directly to the consumer and to restaurants.
Carrie Culver, a California Sea Grant Extension Specialist and one of the lead investigators, explains that, “Our goal is to provide fishermen the resources to decide if alternative marketing is the right fit for their interests and business – it isn’t for everyone – and to succeed if they decide to take that step.”
“Thanks in part to the local food movement, there is a lot of interest in different marketing strategies and a lot of possibilities out there,” said Carrie Pomeroy, also a California Sea Grant Extension Specialist. “But they all require particular skills and considerations.”
Culver and Pomeroy worked with Sea Grant affiliates Ashley Stroud, Jamie Doyle and Amber Von Harten, as well as UC Santa Barbara researchers Barbara Walker and Kimberley Selkoe, to gather information from across the country and develop the website, featuring guidance on the marketing options that are available, business plans, and tips from successful sellers.
Since direct marketing is not for everyone, the website does not advocate for the process. “There are pros and cons to any approach for marketing seafood, with some approaches working better for certain types of fisheries, fishing businesses and individual fisherman,” said Culver. “Alternative marketing often is used in combination with traditional markets, all of which help to get seafood to consumers.”
To learn more, visit the Market Your Catch website: http://marketyourcatch.msi.ucsb.edu/