Now open until July 16, 2023, a survey on national seafood marketing practices funded by NOAA Fisheries, aims to fill a gap in our understanding of the domestic seafood market in the U.S.

A national survey on direct marketing practices among U.S. seafood harvesters, developed by the University of Maine, Agricultural Marketing Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and National Marine Fisheries Service, was born from a simple question: “How do fishermen market their catch?” National Fisherman first mentioned the survey project, which is  funded by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Sustainable Fisheries and the USDA, in July 2022.

Farmers are used to similar surveys, which have been common since 2015, when the USDA began monitoring direct marketing practices by farmers through the Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. Data from these surveys are used to estimate the scale of direct marketing practices. Although they are important to define future strategies, and so are a well established practice in the agricultural sector, they  do not exist in the seafood sector. Until now.

Aware that the agricultural surveys are critical in justifying USDA’s investment in small- and mid-sized farming operations through grants, technical assistance, and research,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture believes that having similar data about the seafood sector will help policymakers and managers develop initiatives to support the small- and mid-sized seafood operations and strengthen the nation’s domestic seafood economy. So, the survey was developed.

Now, for surveys to be successful, it’s important that the target of every survey is reached. That’s why NOAA Fisheries is asking commercial seafood harvesters to participate in this survey on national seafood marketing practices. The survey aims to fill a gap in our understanding of the domestic seafood market in the US and bring greater focus to the socioeconomic contributions of seafood in the nation’s local and regional food systems.

Here is who to participate!

You can help to increase the visibility of the domestic seafood sector and the role seafood harvesters play in supporting the nation’s food system! The research team is surveying harvesters and hope responses will:

•                     Fill data gaps on seafood marketing at the national level

•                     Increase understanding of local and regional seafood marketing practices

•                     Remove barriers to direct marketing for the commercial fishing sector

“This work helps unpack the different pathways seafood takes from our ocean to the consumer. Understanding these pathways documents the benefits of U.S. fisheries to the nation in terms of food production and food security, and contributes to NOAA’s National Seafood Strategy,” says Sarah Shoffler, one of the NOAA Fisheries leads on the survey project. “This project also leverages strengths of the three organizations: USDA’s valuable experience in alternative marketing practices survey work; University of Maine’s, through their Local Catch Network, contacts and continued engagement with local fishing businesses around the country; and NOAA Fisheries’ understanding of fisheries and seafood data.”

Last year the survey team contacted nearly 39,000 US commercial seafood harvesters to ask them about their seafood marketing practices. This year until July, the survey will contact nearly 7000 direct seafood marketers in the US to learn more about their engagement with the direct seafood sector, characteristics of their businesses, and their marketing practices.

According to the research team eligible participants should have received a survey form with an individual ID and a link to access the survey online during April. Now, here is a message from the survey team: if you are an American direct seafood marketer and have not yet received a postcard, email, or survey form, but are interested in participating please contact the research team.

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Jose Antunes is a freelance journalist who writes about technology, software, photography and video.

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