Project

Expanding Maine's Blue Economy

Securing a future for Maine's Blue Economy.

Changing ocean conditions and increased regulations have put a strain on Maine's fisheries, more and more fishermen have been turning to sustainable aquaculture as an alternative. Still, the influx of aquaculture production in Maine has generated oversaturated in-state markets, forcing growers to explore out-of-state markets. This collaborative, industry-propelled, interdisciplinary research project will enhance the long-term economic sustainability of aquaculture in Maine by improving our understanding of the industry’s marketing needs, the seafood supply chain, and consumer preferences.

Project Goals:

  • Identify industry marketing needs by gathering industry input.
  • Describe seafood supply chains and explore their vulnerabilities and growth opportunities.
  • Evaluate consumer preferences for Maine's aquaculture products.
  • Inform and improve our research efforts by seeking timely feedback from industry stakeholders and scientists.

To improve our understanding of potential markets for Maine produced aquaculture seafood and the relationship between the seafood supply chain for wild and aquaculture products, our research project will address two specific objectives.

Objective 1: Identify industry marketing needs, distribution channels, and opportunities

Identification of barriers and opportunities to expand aquaculture products within the U.S. market is key to ensuring the economic sustainability of Maine aquaculture businesses and coastal communities reliant on seafood products (Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, 2020). Working directly with aquaculture growers, dealers, and wild-capture distributors to understand Maine’s seafood supply chain will allow for identification of potential synergies, challenges, and opportunities for growth.

We will work with growers and seafood industry professionals to identify prior marketing and expansion efforts, as well as inform alternate marketing messages in potential expansion markets (Objective 2) with a particular emphasis on testing the power of a place in provenance branding (e.g. Maine state, region, river). Researchers will discuss iterations of information/marketing messages with industry members and the advisory board to ensure alignment with current and envisioned product attributes. Working collaboratively with industry members, Tokunaga and researchers will map out the supply chain of seafood in Maine and 1) identify any changes in supply chain due to COVID-19 and 2) examine long-term and structural implications of such changes.

Objective 2: Evaluate consumer preferences for Maine marine aquaculture products.

We will identify barriers to seafood consumption in nontraditional and inland U.S. markets. We will design and empirically test impactful information and marketing messages for aquaculture products. Online surveys of inland U.S. consumers will directly incorporate input from growers (Objective 1) and findings from previous aquaculture consumer focused work by members of this research team (Brayden et al., 2018; Rickard et al., 2018).

Project Team

Project Sponsor

Black text SeaGrant logo.

This project is made possible by funding from SeaGrant.

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