FocusMaine to launch Maine Seafood Promotional Council supported by MDECD

Sun, 06/09/2024 - 9:45am

The Maine Seafood Promotional Council, an initiative designed to boost market growth and opportunities for Maine's seafood sector, is gearing up for a two-year pilot phase. This project is funded by a grant through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Domestic Trade Grant Program funded by Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and the American Rescue Plan Act.

This initiative, led by FocusMaine and guided by industry input, is a direct outcome of recommendations outlined in the Roadmap for the Future of Maine’s Seafood Economy, a comprehensive study by the Seafood Economic Accelerator for Maine (SEA Maine), funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Industry engagement and feedback has been a key element of the concept since its inception prior to the pandemic.

Maine’s fisheries are a significant economic engine for the state. This effort seeks to boost markets within and outside the state, supporting burgeoning and heritage fisheries alike, and will strengthen Maine's food economy through the responsible use of our state's natural resources.

By tapping into a consumer desire for traceable seafood, this initiative is aligned with broader market trends nationally. Currently, Maine is one of the few states on the Eastern Seaboard without a broad seafood promotional entity, putting it at a distinct disadvantage. This initiative seeks to change that.

Andrea Cianchette Maker, co-founder, co-chair, and President of FocusMaine, shared her enthusiasm, stating, “With the rising demand for locally grown seafood, we need the expertise that has been passed and grown over many generations, as well as the new expertise emerging from a more active aquaculture community, to harness the potential of Maine’s seafood industry. The Maine Seafood Promotional Council will establish a place for our fishermen and aquaculturists to strengthen their businesses and create greater impacts in their coastal communities."

The initial pilot phase of setting up the seafood promotional council spans a two-year period.  During the course of these two years, the project will host two events to raise broad awareness about seafood from Maine, work with the Department of Marine Resources to leverage assets created during the pandemic (the Seafood from Maine website and social platforms), stand up an industry-led Advisory Board, create a governance mechanism for the Promotional Council, and seek sustainable funding. These efforts will complement the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, the state’s legislatively mandated marketing initiative for Maine’s lobster industry.

The Seafood Promotional Council Working Committee is actively seeking industry members and other interested parties to get involved with the effort.  If you’re interested, please contact courtney@focusmaine.org.

About FocusMaine: Guided by a board of private-sector leaders, FocusMaine coordinates and sponsors a synergistic set of programs delivered by high-impact organizations to strengthen globally competitive and high-growth industries, build workforce skills for those sectors, and increase interest in pursuing careers in Maine. This work catalyzes jobs by strengthening businesses and their needed workforce and increases revenues by displacing imports and expanding markets beyond Maine. Learn more about FocusMaine at focusmaine.org.

About SEA Maine: SEA Maine, or the Seafood Economic Accelerator for Maine, is an industry-led initiative bringing together leaders in Maine’s commercial fishing, aquaculture, and seafood economy. Funded initially by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, with match funding from the Maine Technology Institute and FocusMaine, the statewide initiative developed a roadmap and action plan for economic growth, market and workforce development, and greater resiliency in Maine’s seafood economy. Learn more about SEA Maine at seamaine.org.

For inquiries, please contact angie@nemediaassociates.com and mari@focusmaine.org