Sustaining Fishing Communities by Enhancing Value in a Landings-Constrained Environment

R/SOC-03

The vast majority of seafood consumed by Americans is imported, and over time more of it is coming from fish or shellfish farms. Yet, West Coast fishermen, by and large, still export most of what they catch. For the Pacific sardine, about 75 percent of the state’s landings are exported overseas, as far as Australia, for bait, fish feed and pet food. The sardine fishery is what is known as a high-volume, low-value fishery. But what if some, or more, of California’s sardines were sold whole to local restaurants or seafood markets? Besides the conservation benefits, a highervalue product might help fishermen offset rising fuel costs or lost fishing opportunities due to marine protected areas. This project explores strategies for adding value to fish and shellfish landed in California, either through the development of new markets or through the development of new product lines, using four fisheries at different stages in developing high-value products and markets as case studies: trap spot prawn, live nearshore fin-fish, Dungeness crab and Pacific sardine. Researchers are working closely with industry to identify marketing approaches and product forms that have been successful (or unsuccessful) at adding value to West Coast fisheries. Findings from the project will be presented at workshops and townhall meetings and developed into a set of recommendations to be shared with coastal communities and managers.

Co-principal Investigators