For Immediate Release
North Carolina Sea Grant is helping the seafood industry’s economic recovery from the impacts of the global COVID pandemic. Two new projects were among those announced today by the National Sea Grant program.
“We will develop and enhance direct-to-consumer marketing strategies to offset ongoing losses in the foodservice sector, where a majority of seafood in 2020 was consumed before the pandemic,” notes North Carolina Sea Grant coastal economist Jane Harrison, who will lead the project, along with Sea Grant colleagues Barry Nash, Eric Herbst and Scott Baker, and partners from statewide agencies and organizations.
“Building on the initial successes of the NC Oyster Trail and the Visit North Carolina Farms app, our team also will demonstrate ways to leverage tourism to increase public awareness of and demand for North Carolina seafood,” Harrison adds.
Annie Baggett, of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will work with seafood producers to expand the presence and use of the Visit NC Farms App — a mobile technology for phones and tablets that consumers download to find retailers and seasonal events celebrating local food anywhere in the state.
Ann Savage, of NC State University Tourism Extension, will help to further develop the North Carolina Oyster Trail, a marketing program that educates the public about the culinary options and ecosystem benefits of sustainable shellfish mariculture.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation will plan and host a workshop to further develop relationships between Oyster Trail members and tourism organizations. The workshop will coincide with the NC Oyster Summit in 2023. North Carolina Coastal Federation partners serve as co-administrators of the NC Oyster Trail with North Carolina Sea Grant.
“Overall, our project will provide marketing assistance, training, and network building for North Carolina commercial fishers and marine aquaculture producers who are conducting direct marketing through tourism,” Harrison notes.
New NOAA Partnership
North Carolina Sea Grant is also among the participants in a new partnership among the National Sea Grant Office and network, as well as NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), to build capacity and collaboration for environmentally, economically and socially equitable marine aquaculture.
Maryland Sea Grant will administer the new partnership, including a new national partnership coordinator. North Carolina Sea Grant’s Eric Herbst will work with NCCOS aquaculture experts based in Beaufort, North Carolina, on topics including marine spatial planning and developing regional workshops focusing on site selections for new aquaculture operations.
“North Carolina Sea Grant already has strong working relationships with NCCOS partners working on aquaculture topics, such as through the recent update for the NC Oyster Blueprint and other committees,” Herbst notes.