I can't think of a better place to celebrate National Seafood Month than the great state of Alaska — the source of more than half of our domestic supply of wild fish.
One week from today, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute will open its All Hands On Deck annual meeting in Anchorage, Oct. 8-10. The usual suspects at this meeting include most of the top names in Alaska's seafood processing sector and representatives from state, national and global seafood-related agencies and nonprofits. What is often missing is the seafood industry's top contributor — fishermen (though there are a few; and if you know Alaska seafood, you probably already know who they are).
As an Alaska commercial fisherman, you want to be in the room where it happens. Let me tell you why.
Each of Alaska's fishery species has a committee that convenes at this public meeting. Anyone in the room is allowed to ask questions and bear witness to the meeting. If you attend, not only will you have an idea of what ASMI will focus on for the coming year in marketing your fishery, but you can actually weigh in on it.
I've see marketing dollars shift between species based on what comes out of these meetings. If you're not there, you're missing an opportunity to advocate for your fishery in one of the most transparent and accessible processes you'll see in Alaska or truly anywhere in the country. The following day, recaps of each species meeting give you the opportunity to get caught up on what was discussed at each of the species meetings, just in case you missed something.
Day two hosts the operational committees. This is your chance to witness exactly how the institute is spending your dollars to promote your catch. These are the committees that work with each ASMI team — foodservice, retail, communications, sustainability, technical and international. If you are invested in any or all of these outreach strategies, then plan on being at the meeting for at least two days.
Things you may learn include what products and countries the international program is working on to broaden Alaska's global marketing reach; what certifications Alaska seafood carries and why; how food safety and handling education are promoted within the industry; how ASMI is adapting to communicate with the fleets as well as the consumer; what events ASMI hosts and attends to promote Alaska seafood; data and insights on who buys fish and why.
On day three, should you choose to complete this mission, you will have an opportunity to hear a summary of everything that happened in the other operational meetings that you may have missed. Finally, the board meets in a closed session.
If you are a commercial fisherman in Alaska, you are already part of this process — whether your voice is fairly and accurately represented is up to you. Even as a commercial fisherman from outside of Alaska, this meeting should still be of interest to you. As Alaska seafood goes, so goes the nation. It never hurts to get the inside scoop on where U.S. seafood marketing dollars going.