Press release

Introducing Inaugural Gulf of Maine Tastemakers Award Winners

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute celebrates local seafood champions

PORTLAND, ME, June 25, 2024 — The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) has announced three winners of its first annual Gulf of Maine Tastemakers awards, recognizing local businesses for their exceptional contributions to the seafood industry. The institute’s sustainable seafood experts honored their partners with awards in three categories: Local, Climate, and Innovation.

Each of these partners participates in the institute’s new Gulf of Maine Tastemakers program. The businesses comprising this program are dedicated to celebrating and promoting the vibrant array of local seafood from our region's waters and fostering a sustainable, resilient regional seafood economy. At the heart of Gulf of Maine Tastemakers is a commitment from each business to source 35% of total seafood purchases locally by 2025.

Inaugural Gulf of Maine Tastemakers Award Winners:

Local Award Winner: Hannaford

Hannaford Supermarkets has been walking the local walk for nearly a decade. As a longstanding GMRI partner, Hannaford exemplifies local businesses that have a steadfast commitment to bolstering the local seafood economy. Today, 42% of the seafood purchased by Hannaford is sourced locally, showcasing their dedication to supporting regional fisheries and communities around New England. In addition to traditional favorites like haddock and lobster, they also regularly sell Acadian redfish, pollock, and hake — and last summer, they began selling local bluefin tuna. Hannaford has consistently worked with over 20 local suppliers to ensure customers have access to local seafood whenever and wherever they shop. They have also engaged directly with fishermen and women by supporting and participating actively in fishery improvement projects. This support highlights their passion for sustainability and underscores their role as a driving force in promoting the vibrancy of the local seafood economy. This dedication has earned Hannaford our inaugural Gulf of Maine Tastemakers Local Award.

Local Award Nominees:

  • Hannaford
  • Sodexo's Maine Course
  • Eventide Oyster Co.

Climate Award Winner: Atlantic Sea Farms and North Coast Seafoods

Farmed kelp producer Atlantic Sea Farms is a leader in the seafood and climate spaces. They have successfully championed and brought this climate-friendly, restorative food into the mainstream, helping fishermen diversify their harvest in a warming Gulf of Maine. A collaboration with another GMRI partner, North Coast Seafoods, allowed kelp to reach an even broader audience. North Coast’s seaweedish meatballs, made with Atlantic Sea Farms’ kelp, have been making waves in the institutional food service space around the region. Students from kindergarten through college love this climate-friendly and vegetarian seafood. Unlike other seaweed-based meat substitutes on the market, kelp is the main ingredient in Atlantic Sea Farms' sea veggie burgers and North Coast's seaweedish meatballs. Both companies are committed to reducing their environmental impact. North Coast has been working for years to reduce energy usage and improve efficiency, and they are currently switching packaging to recyclable materials. Atlantic Sea Farms uses recyclable packaging and captures waste heat from their production to fuel their hot water system. Their dedication to climate responsibility and unique collaboration have earned Atlantic Sea Farms and North Coast Seafoods a joint award win for our inaugural Gulf of Maine Tastemakers Climate Award.

Climate Award Nominees:

  • Atlantic Sea Farms and North Coast Seafoods
  • Inn by the Sea and Sea Glass
  • Portland Lobster Company

Innovation Award Winner: South Portland School Nutrition Program

In the three short years that Shawn Perry has led the South Portland School Nutrition Program, he has established himself as a champion in the sea-to-school movement and an enthusiastic partner. Under his leadership, his hardworking staff have successfully served local fish at least twice a month (and sometimes more) during the past school year. This is outstanding, as most K-12 schools — if they serve fish at all — typically only offer it once a month, and it's often not local. Shawn’s innovative approach to the sea-to-school program has been impactful for the students in South Portland. By incorporating culturally diverse seafood recipes across all age groups in the district, asylee, refugee, and immigrant students are offered a familiar protein in a familiar preparation. Shawn has successfully broken down the barriers that previously prevented fish from staying on the lunch menu and has even offered local fish as a breakfast option. His ability and willingness to think outside the box have earned him, his staff, and the South Portland School Nutrition Program a win for our inaugural Gulf of Maine Tastemakers Innovation Award.

Innovation Award Nominees:

  • South Portland School Nutrition Program
  • Mr. Tuna
  • Luke's Lobster

By prioritizing regional seafood, Gulf of Maine Tastemakers not only support the livelihoods of fishing families and coastal communities but also promote a healthier, more sustainable food system. New England boasts a rich history and culture surrounding seafood, yet much of our local fish remains overshadowed in the global marketplace. Gulf of Maine Tastemakers continue to shift this paradigm by showcasing the quality and variety of regional seafood.

About the Gulf of Maine Research Institute:

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute develops and delivers collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges. Located in Portland, ME, the institute is dedicated to the resilience of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.gmri.org.

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a man stands in a prep kitchen with portions of gulf of maine redfish

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Elijah Miller
Elijah Miller Communications Director (207) 228-1667 [email protected]