The “locavore” movement is helping America’s farmers. Could it also help our fishermen? Social scientists, in collaboration with marine scientists, commercial fishermen and the West Coast Sea Grant programs, are exploring whether and how direct marketing might benefit West Coast fishermen and fishing communities.
In the project’s first phase, researchers have been studying direct marketing programs (e.g., off-the-boat sales, web-based sales, and community supported fishery programs) in North and South Carolina and Washington to identify key factors necessary for success, as well as the social and economic implications of direct marketing arrangements to fishery participants and consumers. What is learned will be used to craft a direct marketing assessment toolkit to help fishing communities avoid costly mistakes and other pitfalls that can beset direct marketing programs. More specifically, the toolkit will help communities recognize the full range of potential direct marketing approaches and from these identify ones most applicable to their local catches and consumer preferences. The toolkit will be tested in 34 West Coast fishing communities struggling to organize or develop broadly successful direct marketing programs. In the project’s final stage, the team will convene outreach seminars to disseminate the toolkit and share study results with West Coast fishing communities.