From two corners of the seafood sector this week came new projects to encourage industry exploration and expansion. Bristol Seafood and the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers each paved the way for new funding streams to promote the U.S. seafood sector's diversity and growth.

Bristol Seafood announced it opened an office at the New England Ocean Cluster in Portland, Maine, and founded sponsorship of a program to support under-represented blue economy entrepreneurs.

Inclusion in the Blue Economy will provide dedicated workspace at the New England Ocean Cluster House as well as mentorship opportunities for entrepreneurs, focusing on women, people of color, and individuals from non-marine industries who are passionate about building responsible marine-related businesses. 

"Innovation and inclusion are two essential parts of our culture," said Peter Handy, Bristol Seafood's president and CEO. "Our presence at the New England Ocean Cluster and our sponsorship to support under-represented entrepreneurs aligns with our mission to make seafood America's favorite protein."

The cluster was founded to expand avenues for innovation and collaboration in partnership with the Icelandic Ocean Cluster headquartered in Reykjavik. Its goal is to connect people within the ocean economy by encouraging innovative and sustainable products and business practices.

On the other coast, the Seattle-based Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers announced funding for another round of its North American Partnership Program, which is designed to to educate seafood consumers about wild Alaska pollock.

This round of the program, the association says, will focus on new product formulations that meet consumers where they are: hungry at home. The association will accept proposals to build awareness and demand for wild Alaska pollock in the North American marketplace from any organization, in any country, with particular focus on bringing this fish into new channels, new formats, and with new influencers.

“There has never been a more disruptive time in our food history, and now is the time to double-down and engage consumers with new ideas, innovations, influencers and recipes,” said Craig Morris, GAPP CEO.

All product forms will be considered – fillets, surimi, roe, fishmeal, or oil. Programs targeting either the retail or the food service channel are eligible for consideration. Proposals can request up to a dollar-for-dollar match, meaning GAPP will match up to a dollar for every dollar of the partner’s marketing investment.

Proposals are due to GAPP by Friday, Sept. 4. Funding announcements should be made no later than Sept. 28. GAPP will also hold a workshop to provide advice and answer questions about how to craft a solid proposal. The workshop is open to anyone interested in submitting a proposal and will begin at 1 p.m. PT on July 15.

“Strengthening our partnerships with customers and seeding the innovation pipeline continues to be key to our industry’s success,” said Mikel Durham, GAPP board chairwoman.

The webinar is part of GAPP's ongoing free summer webinar series through mid-August. 

National Fisherman is proud to sponsor this work and support industry and market expansion for wild seafood.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 14 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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