On March 11, the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S-497) sailed through the Senate, making way (again) for a return to funding for domestic seafood R&D and marketing. An identical bill is now awaiting House approval for the last steps in this retro makeover of the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act.
In 1954, the S-K Act, was established to give U.S. seafood a boost with research and development into new products, as well as funds to market them.
If passed and signed, the act would establish the American Fisheries Advisory Committee, which would become the U.S. seafood industry’s voice in directing 10 percent of the S-K grant funds back to their original purpose.
In recent decades, the S-K grant awards began to be siphoned away from the fisheries and seafood industries in favor of college and university research proposals, many of which catered to the needs of college science programs but less so to the needs of the industries the funds were intended to serve.
“The Saltonstall-Kennedy Act is very important to the seafood industry, both to promote U.S. seafood products and to develop all manner of new seafood production, both on the water and off,” said Matt Alward, president of United Fishermen of Alaska. “We believe the funds the act created should be utilized as the S-K Act directs them.”
Over the last 10 years, Bruce Schactler, director of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition, has lobbied for a portion of those funds to be returned to their original purpose and overseen by a national committee with regional representatives from a range of stakeholder groups.
“There is talk across the industry in favor of a national marketing campaign, much like other commodities use,” Schactler said. “And the job of creating such a campaign will logically fall to this broad selection of industry representatives that make up the American Fisheries Advisory Committee and the funding for such ideas through the Saltonstall/Kennedy Act.”