Two year study of Maine’s seafood systems and infrastructure tracks from source to plate
January 28, 2015 — A two-year study of Maine Seafood Systems and Infrastructure conducted by CEI’s Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Program has been converted into an interactive web tool to connect consumers with Maine’s iconic seafood industry. The Study findings, available on CEI’s website, were announced in mid-January at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition 2015.
“As we were conducting our study of seafood, we saw just how many companies are adding value along the distribution chain,” said Hugh Cowperthwaite, Fisheries Project Director at CEI. “Maine lands about $450 million in seafood each year, the third-highest total in the U.S., and yet consumers do not know about the wide array of products that are harvested or caught, or where to get them. Our goal was to create a way to bring seafood into local and regional food systems, and promote fish and aquaculture as part of our vibrant local food movement.”
The report found that consumers are looking for quick easy to prepare meals, and also want to know where their food comes from. Given that 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, it seemed important to find ways to raise awareness among consumers of the location and function of the many businesses that bring Maine seafood from ocean to table.
“We also believe that there is a need to find ways to add value and processing opportunities for the species of fish that are in high demand and sustainably fished,” said Dick Clime, CEI’s Working Waterfront Project Developer, and co-researcher with Hugh Cowperthwaite for the Maine Seafood Study. “Our goal was to make the distribution system more open and transparent to anyone involved in local or regional food systems.”
The new web tool reflects the areas investigated in the Maine Seafood Study. While these areas are integral to the seafood industry, most consumers may be unaware of how they connect to the food they eat. The areas include: seafood landings data, commercially harvested marine resources, value added seafood products, seafood processors, ice producers, cold storage, transportation, destinations of Maine seafood projects, wholesalers, aquaculture, farmers markets, and New England food hubs.
The Maine Seafood Study is sponsored in part by Wholesome Wave Charitable Ventures, Inc. as part of a project known as the New England Food Hub Cluster Initiative, and funded by the Rural Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a collaboration of USDA Rural Development and the Economic Development Administration.
CEI, one of the nation’s premier Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), specializes in rural business development and financing. Founded in 1977 in Wiscasset, Maine, we create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, natural resource-based industries including the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities, renewable energy, commercial real estate and affordable housing. CEI serves communities in Maine, New England, and rural regions throughout the U.S. Find out more at www.ceimaine.org.