Focus on The Gulf States
by Jessie Johnson, Founder and Executive Director
I spent the last few days in Boston at Seafood Expo North America (#SENA14) attending their incredible conference and meeting a bunch of distributors, SSBP partners, and other industry professionals. You can read a full recap of the expo on Life As A Strawberry, but I also wanted to give you a more in-depth look at some of the sessions I attended while I was there. There are some AMAZING things happening in the industry right now, especially where sustainability and traceability are concerned – let’s start by looking at what’s going on in the Gulf!
I was particularly impressed with the efforts in the Gulf States – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida – especially in the wake of tragedies like Katrina and the recent oil spill. The Gulf Coast produces 70% of U.S. oyster AND shrimp There are a few programs in particular doing a great job of bringing these states together with the goal of improved sustainability and traceability in their seafood industry – let’s take a look!
The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition: Currently in the 3rd year of a 4-year program, this coalition is funded by a grant from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and was created to build relationships between fishermen, restaurants, retailers, chefs, and other Gulf Seafood Industry Representatives. They’ve created a comprehensive species chart as well as an app based on databases from all of the 5 gulf states. They’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time, and have played an instrumental role in building up the Gulf Seafood Industry.
Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board: This board is particularly concerned with telling the story of Louisiana Seafood – letting consumers know what makes their seafood special and sharing the culture of their fisheries. They’re doing a great job of observing successful markets (like Napa Valley) and mimicking practices that help develop a solid brand around a wide, often decentralized market. Though their focus is on economic success, they don’t prioritize profit over sustainability or traceability – those values are deeply integrated into their core mission, and they’re part of what makes the Louisiana Seafood story so fantastic!
Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) at the Audubon Nature Institute: This program is particularly cool because it’s a piece of the Audubon Nature Institute, so it has access to the resources of their zoo and aquarium. G.U.L.F. works to certify responsibly managed fisheries in the Gulf States and also runs educational programs.
Gulf FINFO: A brand new website that exists to disseminate information about sustainable fisheries in the area and distill that information in a way that makes it easy for buyers to process and understand. Though the site just launched, it is already poised to become a great resource for industry professionals and consumers alike.
For more on #SENA14, you can follow @seafoodblogproj on Twitter or read the general recap post on Life As A Strawberry. Special thanks to The Boston Seafood Expo for a great conference and to iPura for including us among their official bloggers for the event!