ARLINGTON, Va. -- A new national effort emphasizing a safe, high-quality and environmentally responsible seafood supply may be laying the groundwork for the often-debated generic seafood marketing campaign.
The National Fisheries Institute here, led by Niels Moore, NFI coordinator, and Jim Fullilove, national coordinator, has begun work on "Seafood for America."
"The impetus for this particular campaign is that a number of coastal states and fishermen have been experiencing threats to their livelihoods," explained NFI spokeswoman Kathy Snider.
Special-interest groups with concerns about the depletion of fish in coastal bodies of water have in several cases attempted or succeeded in passing bans or restrictions on fishing.
"A couple of states' legislatures are discussing bills that would in some way limit commercial fishermen's ability to use certain kinds of gear or limit certain species," Snider said. "So it became clear to NFI that it wasn't one isolated area of the country, so we got some members together for a conference [held in February of this year] and the outcome was that participants felt there needed to be some kind of organized program to reassure consumers," she said.
The program's goal is to educate people about quality and safety issues as well as the state of resources. "It's not really a generic marketing program, it's more trying to educate people on how a ban on commercial fishing would impact on them directly, and educate people on industry," Snider said.
"It's a separate issue from the generic marketing campaign -- that's still on the issue plate for NFI but still on the back burner at this point."
NFI has hired a national coordinator, and is currently looking to involve state groups in the effort.
"We're looking to work in cooperation with existing state organizations and tie in with efforts they are perhaps already undertaking," Snider said.
Examples of such organizations include the Louisiana Seafood and Promotional Marketing Board and the New York Seafood Council, she added.
"The concern was that there are a lot of groups doing similar type efforts, so we don't want to reinvent the wheel. They can give us feedback on what people already know and what they need to learn more about, and how we can accomplish that."
In the long term, though, NFI expects to broaden the campaign to include "the public at large."
At this point, that could involve anything from nationwide advertising campaigns to educational programs tailored for schools. "The method is not nailed down yet -- but there will be both a local and national message in scope, and advertising would certainly be a possibility.
"We're looking at any and all options," she continued. "Our intent is not to focus only on one sector. So we would welcome ideas and suggestions from retailers."
Snider thinks the program could be good news for the proponents of a generic marketing campaign. "It's a different issue, but in some ways it could accomplish some of the same things that would. This is more of an educational product, but there could be some overlap."