The mission is straightforward: Provide a unified voice for the domestic seafood industry to encourage Americans to eat more seafood.

Now that mission, set forth by the National Seafood Council Task Force, is supporting scholarships for small- and medium-sized seafood businesses to help shape and launch the council and its initiative to develop a consumer marketing and education campaign.

“The National Seafood Council Task Force will actively lay the foundation for the most all-encompassing, consumer-facing seafood marketing campaign in our nation’s history,” said Jim Motos, senior vice president of Rich Products’ Consumer Brands Division, and chairman of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

A broad-reaching, unified National Seafood Council aims to provide the scale needed to complement and amplify efforts of existing seafood marketing organizations and will focus on increasing seafood consumption as a whole and not at the species-specific level, according to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, which launched the task force in April 2020.

“One of the key objectives of the National Seafood Council Task Force is to be representative of the diverse U.S. seafood supply chain,” said Linda Lai Cornish, president of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership. “For the National Seafood Council to have a unified voice for the industry, the task force must represent all aspects of the industry.”

The diversity areas of interest are size of business (company revenue less than $20 million), key skills relevant to a National Seafood Campaign, gender, geography, and points along the supply chain. Funding provided by the Walton Family Foundation will support six to eight finalists.

All applicants must include a referral from a member of the National Seafood Council Task Force or the Seafood4Health Action Coalition.

“Some of the tasks include designing the governance of the National Seafood Council, and the makeup and responsibilities of the board members,” said Cornish, as reported by Laine Welch at Alaska Fish Radio.

Rolling applications are open now and will close on Friday, Aug. 13. Funding is available for six to eight leaders to be offered scholarships to join the NSC Task Force. Nominations that meet eligibility requirements will be presented to the NSC Task Force for review and approval.

In May 2021, a group of more than 60 U.S. seafood organizations and businesses asked Congress to provide $25 million to support a national seafood marketing and public education program, as recommended by NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Council. The seafood council would eventually become industry funded.

Recognizing the need for Americans to eat more seafood for overall wellness, the initial focus of the National Seafood Council will be to promote the health benefits of consuming sustainable seafood, which includes U.S. wild fisheries and aquaculture.

“With an initial influx of federal funds and strong industry leadership, a National Seafood Council can build a stronger more resilient seafood sector — one that supports our fishermen, our environment, and Americans’ health,” said Cornish.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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