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From the Dock: Marketing strategy looks to Alaska

  1. An International Marketing Committee which looks at tariff and trade issues, promotes state of origin labeling on all products, and researches what each of the 20 countries and seven regions to which the Institute markets are looking for in seafood.

  2. A Food Service Committee which focuses on branding and is planning a program to stress proper handling methods for various seafoods.

  3. A Retail Committee which is working on pollock and surimi promotion and canned salmon research.

  4. A Technical Committee which is promoting the concept of sustainability and preparing additional product and buyers’ guides. With that background, the NSMC work session convened on December 2. We received a brief background on UFA’s efforts to start the NSMC. Several potential funding sources were discussed including duties on imported seafood, antidumping and countervailing duties, Saltonstall/Kennedy (S/K) funds, and the Oil Pollution Fund. Final discussion on funding sources was tabled until later. The NSMC work session convened on December 2. We received a brief background on UFA’s efforts to start the NSMC. Several potential funding sources were discussed, including duties on imported seafood, antidumping and countervailing duties, Saltonstall/Kennedy funds, and the Oil Pollution Fund. Final discussion on funding sources was tabled until later. After a lengthy discussion, the participants decided to create five rather than six regional boards, with the chair of each forming a National Marketing Committee. The Great Lakes states are combined with New England as the Northeast Regional Marketing Board. At my request and that of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, there will be further discussions on this arrangement since the fisheries of the two areas are so different. Before the close of the meeting, we discussed what should happen in the future. The general consensus was to move forward to create the coalition initiative because it will create jobs in the seafood industry. The consensus was to form a steering committee of two or three delegates from each region which would meet to develop a specific plan and budget for moving forward. The steering committee plans to meet in Baltimore next month and then report back to the NSMC at a meeting held during the International Boston Seafood Show in March. I can’t end this article without mentioning the seafood reception put on for us by ASMI. We were warned to have a light lunch and to not make any plans for dinner, as ASMI had flown in “some” Alaska seafood for us. The “some” seafood would have fed everyone in the hotel. It was great to taste different seafood, as well some of the same seafood we catch or grow in Maine. Based on what I learned in Seattle about both ASMI and the NSMC, the best way for Maine to take advantage of a successful National Seafood Marketing Fund would be to have a marketing council, based on the ASMI model, in place here in Maine. I found when talking to Alaskan fishermen at the meeting that a few were at first skeptical of ASMI’s value. They said, however, that the one-half percent assessment from the first point of sale has been returned many times over in increased boat prices through the successful marketing programs funded by ASMI. The fishing industry took a risk by funding ASMI through a self-assessment, and it has benefited tremendously through the increased value of fishery products created by ASMI’s marketing efforts.

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