Although seafood consumption is on the rise, the U.S. has witnessed the decline of many of its major fisheries, resulting in a seafood trade deficit of $8 billion per year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service statistics. As international trade increases and fish diseases and contamination become bigger problems, seafood safety is a growing concern. In its strategic plan, Sea Grant identified key roles to play in advancing public understanding of the nature of these problems and opportunities. For example, Sea Grant is involved in research to aid in the stabilization and recovery of many depleted fisheries, as well as in aquaculture research to help meet the increased demand for seafood. The National Sea Grant Law Center supports Sea Grant’s mission by providing legal research, outreach, and education on seafood issues such as fishery management, aquaculture, and seafood marketing and labeling.
Priority Issue: Community Supported Fisheries
At the request of NOAA Fisheries, the NSGLC collaborated with the Planning Committee of the National Summit on Community Supported Fisheries, held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, May 30 – June 1, 2012, to produce a resource guide for fishermen. Starting and Maintaining Community Supported Fishery (CSF) Programs: A Resource Guide for Fishermen and Fishing Communities provides general information to assist fishermen and fishing communities with starting and/or maintaining a Community Supported Fishery (CSF).
In 2016, the organizers of the “Local Seafood Summit: Moving Community Supported Fisheries and Values-Based Fishing Businesses Forward” approached the NSGLC to update the 2012 guide. With funding from Concerned Citizens of Montauk and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fisheries Innovation Fund, the NSGLC broadened the scope of the guide beyond CSFs to include other alternative seafood marketing strategies. This guide complements and builds upon the Market Your Catch website, an online resource developed by California Sea Grant with participation from other Sea Grant programs, fishermen, buyers and others on the U.S. east and west coasts.