Fisheries

Brokering Lane Agreements Between Crabbers and Towboat Operators

Kevin Decker, Coastal Economist, and Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

In the late 1970s, conflicts between oceangoing tugs and commercial crabbers became a major problem in Washington, Oregon and California. Crab pots fouled tugs as they moved between coastal ports, and the loss of gear created severe hardships for commercial crabbers. Sea Grant programs on the West Coast helped broker an agreement that provided navigable towboat and barge lanes through the crabbing grounds between Cape Flattery, Washington, and San Francisco.

Since the late 1990s, WSG has led this process, maintaining the industries’ cooperation and saving them more than $1 million annually. WSG will continue to hold several negotiations each year, improve electronic towlane charts and evaluate the project’s economic impacts.

Towards that, in summer 2016 a new set of visually enhanced charts (“chartlets”) was published, and a Google map webpage that will reflect the same detail as the chartlets is currently under development. In addition, WSG is facilitating discussions between industry and the National Weather Service and U.S. Coast Guard to improve marine weather forecasting and coastal bar-closure policies, and will highlight discussion outcomes.

 

Commercial Fisheries Marketing Initiative

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and WSG are partnering with commercial fishermen to increase awareness of Washington State’s sustainably harvested seafood products, which has become particularly critical in the face of the current COVID-19 outbreak. This initiative addresses a gap in consumer information about fisheries management and the measures taken by WDFW to ensure that seafood delivered to Washington consumers is sustainably caught, while raising consumer awareness of fishing techniques, business practices, and economic impact.

An advisory group representing all fisheries niches in Washington was established and now meeting monthly, a web page providing COVID-19 resources to fishers and a consumer COVID-19 resource page were created and a social media campaign was launched spring 2020.

In addition to this project, WSG created COVID-19 resource pages for Washington State families and educators and for the shellfish industry.

Marine Safety and First Aid Training

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

 

WSG helps Washington fishermen reduce risks with port-based, U.S. Coast Guard-certified training in emergency preparedness, fire response, cold-water rescue, first aid and other safety measures, using the latest equipment and procedures. Staff specialists also train recreational boaters in first aid and at-sea safety and survival. Since the mid-1990s, WSG safety training classes on Puget Sound, Washington’s outer coast and the Columbia River have markedly reduced fatalities in several fisheries.Topics covered in First Aid at Sea courses include patient assessment, hypothermia, cold water, near-drowning, shock, trauma, burns, fractures, choking, immobilization and important contents for first aid kits.

 

WSG experts also train commercial fishermen and charter boat operators in how to conduct safety drills at sea. These courses meet the training requirements of the Commercial Fishing Safety Act. The course work combines lectures and hands-on experience with the safety and survival equipment required on commercial fishing vessels. Fishermen and boaters learn about emergency procedures and develop appropriate drills for their own vessels.

Contact Sarah Fisken at sfisken@uw.edu.

Pollock Stock Assessment Preview

Edward F. Melvin, Marine Fisheries Scientist

Pollock and salmon are among the most important fishery resources in Alaska. The pollock fishery in the Eastern Bering Sea is based in Seattle and is one of the largest fisheries in the world. It is also closely monitored for its incidental catch of salmon, which can close the fishery if bycatch limits are exceeded. For these reasons, the status of the pollock stock and the level of salmon bycatch are of keen interest to many who live in Seattle.

Each year Washington Sea Grant co-hosts a forum at which scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center of NOAA fisheries preview the most recent assessment of the Eastern Bering Sea pollock population, which is the basis for setting the catch levels for this fishery.

The forum, presented in partnership with the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the College of the Environment, is held prior to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process that sets catch limits for the coming year. It provides fishermen, local marine businesses, environmental groups, students and faculty an opportunity to learn about the science underpinning the stock assessment and discuss trends in data.

In 2014 the scope of the meeting expanded to include industry presentations on new developments in gear modifications that exclude salmon from pollock trawls. These new trawl nets have the potential to forestall closures of the fishery and conserve the salmon resource for native Alaskan coastal communities.

In 2015, the program included a presentation on the newly announced Bering Sea Climate Change Study — a collaboration of NOAA and UW scientists to assess the possible biological and ecological consequences of climate change on Bering Sea fish and fisheries. The 3-year study will focus on five key species including pollock.

For 2016, the program presented a new, multispecies trophic interaction model that links three key Bering Sea species — walleye pollock, Pacific cod and arrowtooth flounder.

 


Seabird Bycatch Prevention in Fisheries

Edward F. Melvin, Marine Fisheries Scientist

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds, including protected albatrosses and petrels, are trapped and drowned in longline and trawl fisheries worldwide each year. Seabird avoidance measures developed and promoted by WSG have dramatically reduced the number of birds, particularly the endangered short-tailed albatross, caught in the fishing lines off Alaska and the West Coast, and also have reduced bait loss and improved fishing efficiency.

These measures, which use strategically deployed bird-repelling streamer lines, have been adopted by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and are used by tuna fisheries worldwide. WSG and its Oregon and California partners have tested and refined prevention measures in the West Coast sablefish fishery, the regional fishery with the greatest potential for reducing or eliminating losses of the endangered albatrosses.


WSG scientist Ed Melvin and his collaborators won the 2015 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award for their work implementing the Seabird Bycatch program along the West Coast and for their outstanding achievements in bird conservation.

WSG shares the 2015 Presidential Award with NOAA’s West Coast Region and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Oregon State University, California Sea Grant, Oregon Sea Grant, the Makah, Quinault, and Quileute tribes, and other agencies and industry groups.

 


West Coast Fisheries Participation Study

Melissa Poe, Social Scientist

The livelihoods of fishermen and women who work along the West Coast are heavily influenced by the inherent variations in the ocean, intrinsic economic uncertainty, and the effects of management. In collaboration with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, investigators are conducting a survey of the West Coast fleets and interviewing fisheries participants to improve understanding of how they respond to these changes. Community and individual responses may vary significantly, depending on diverse social and economic factors.

Washington Sea Grant is leading a study of West Coast fisheries to better understand the various social factors that explain the motivations and benefits of commercial fishing and changes in fishing-based livelihoods.

 


Who brings your seafood to you? An interview with Nick Mendoza, founder of a seafood snack company

June 27, 2024

By Alison Lorenz, WSG Science Writer

To friends and family, Nick Mendoza has always been “the fish guy.” From what he describes as an “uncanny obsession” with fish in his youth to his work as a marine scientist, a love of the ocean is as inherent to Mendoza as his entrepreneurial spirit. Perhaps these traits explain why, amid constant texts from loved ones asking how to eat more, and more sustainable, seafood, Mendoza saw not a challenge, but an opportunity.

Mendoza grew up in New Mexico and attended college in California. After getting a degree in aquaculture, he jumped right into the field, working in next generation aquafeed sustainability related to farming yellowtail and bluefin tuna and in a lab studying shrimp reproduction. He lived the picturesque life of a marine scientist, sailing on Pacific research expeditions, tagging tuna and even great white sharks. But though he was passionate about the ocean and sustainability, something didn’t feel right. Over time, he saw how infrequently insights from his research projects were actually put into practice.

Mendoza and his company’s fish jerky. Photo courtesy of Nick Mendoza.

“Big problems exist in the global seafood industry that need change and are ripe for change,” Mendoza explains. After becoming disillusioned with the incremental impacts he was making as a marine scientist, he decided to switch tracks: “The path for creating that change is consumers who are looking for the thing that can drive it.”

Mendoza left his career as a marine biologist and moved home to New Mexico to plan his next steps. For his burgeoning business idea, he took inspiration from his family’s cattle ranch. At the time, the ranch was exploring the idea of farm-to-table beef – a concept that Mendoza thought could also apply to fish. “Seafood could be a vector for a message,” he remembers thinking. “For these tenants that I tell people in my daily life – that there needs to be science at the source, traceability, all these pieces that contribute to regenerative seafood systems.” Those ideas took shape into the brand, and product, of Mendoza’s newly formed company, Neptune Snacks.

As Mendoza learned, global seafood supply chains can be tricky to navigate. Most seafood eaten in the US is imported; at the same time, the US exports most of its domestic catch. A lack of traceability means that problems like seafood fraud – where seafood is mislabeled as another species, or as having a different country of origin – is common. Neptune Snacks sells fish jerky made from “imperfect” cuts of fish: the cuts are too small or the wrong size to sell in grocery stores or restaurants, but are otherwise high quality. The fish themselves are wild-caught from two healthy domestic fisheries, Alaska pollock and Pacific rockfish. In not only reclaiming fish that would otherwise be wasted, but also sourcing it from robust local populations, Mendoza’s company aims to model a new kind of seafood supply chain, where traceability is the basis of sustainability. Each package of jerky even includes a QR code customers can use to trace the fish back to the vessel on which it was caught.

Seafood snack companies have a unique role to play in educating consumers about seafood and sustainability. “We have the opportunity to be storytellers right in hand with the consumer, because our product and existence is entirely consumer-centric,” Mendoza explains. Neptune Snacks uses all kinds of marketing to connect with customers, from its social media platforms to in-person store demos and presence at festivals like Ballard Seafood Fest in Seattle, where the company is headquartered. “It’s a pretty cool, rare opportunity to be spending a big portion of our time on awareness and telling the very story of what makes the fishermen and fisheries and US wild-caught seafood so special.”

The goal is to make it as simple as possible for people to “find two or three local and sustainable seafood items that they really like,” Mendoza says. The more people can form connections with tasty local seafood, the more they’ll choose it in the future – and help to build local economies that sustain US fishing communities and better value healthy, sustainable seafood produced close to home.

“I’ve been delighted to discover that if you build it they will come,” Mendoza says of his business journey. “There are so many people who post videos about their experience trying something, or send a watercolor painting of our package that their kindergartner did. You’ve created something that ends up in their stomachs and households.”    

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: instagram.com/waseagrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Who brings your seafood to you? An interview with Riley Starks, fisherman and co-founder of the Salish Center

June 3, 2024

By Alison Lorenz, WSG Science Writer

Riley Starks with chef and restauranteur Renee Erickson. Photo courtesy of Riley Starks.

Riley Starks had never fished a day in his life and had rarely been on the water when he graduated college in 1972. But he had a whole year ahead of him before he started law school, he needed money, and a friend of his had just bought a boat. When his friend asked Riley to come crew with him that winter, Riley did. “And it was just one of those moments when you have an epiphany,” Starks says. He came back after a winter of crab fishing, sold everything, and bought a boat of his own.

The start of Starks’s long career in fishing had its rough waters. His whole family came down to watch him take possession of his new boat at Ebey Slough, a narrow inlet near Everett. Nervous and unsure of how to turn around, Starks backed his new boat all the way out to sea. When he finally tied up at his destination, he was “so freaked out” he didn’t return for a week. Seven days later, the boat was nearly sunk, water from a leaky shaft log rising almost to the engine’s spark plugs. A nearby fisherman pulled up and offered him a #10 can to bail water out. “He pulled away laughing at me,” Starks says.

But rough waters and all, things fell into a rhythm. Starks was able to make a deal with a canning company early on, giving him a steady income. In addition to fishing Dungeness crab in the winter, he gillnetted for salmon out of the Fraser River in the summer. He tried out herring fishing in San Francisco and eventually got a coveted permit to fish salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska, which he did for the next 20 years. Though there were bumps along the way – a night they forgot to anchor in San Francisco, a sinking in Bristol Bay (no one was hurt) – Starks did well fishing. “It’s a pattern,” he says. “I did things without really being trained, without knowing – and when doing that, you make mistakes.” But in his case, Starks also learned a lot.

Starks now focuses on a sustainable type of fishing called reefnetting. First developed by the Coast Salish people nearly two millennia ago, reefnet fishing involves anchoring two 40 foot barges to an artificial reef that acts as a funnel, leading the salmon up and over a square net suspended between the barges. A fisher stands on a tall tower or watches through a camera to see when salmon swim over the net. Then, solar-powered electric winches pull up the net while the crew spills fish into the live well. In the live well the salmon rest, swimming into the current and losing any lactic acid buildup in their muscles, until they are hand-sorted. Any unwanted catch is released back into the water unharmed, while the targeted species is bled as it swims.

Harvesting kelp with Lummi Island SeaGreens. Photo courtesy of Meg Chadsey.

The sustainability of reefnetting led Starks to found the Salish Center, one of whose goals is to make reefnet fishing “the primary method for harvesting salmon in the Salish Sea.” The Center promotes reefnetting and the Salish Sea with communities in any way it can. In addition to dinners, festivals, reefnet fishing and seaweed excursions, the Center runs Wave Warrior, Adopt an Orca, and Salish Sea Certified programs – all with the goal of fostering the same love for the Salish Sea that Starks himself radiates.

Then there’s the Center’s newest venture, Lummi Island SeaGreens. One of the first commercial seaweed farms in Washington, SeaGreens fits neatly into the Center’s mission to encourage restoration and stewardship of the Salish Sea. Seaweed provides habitat for a variety of marine life in addition to improving water quality. When his business partner and Salish Center Board President Larry Mellum suggested they get into seaweed, Starks’s first thought was that he didn’t need another project – “but here I am, doing the work,” he says. “It’s exciting, but also challenging to be on the spearhead of it.” To this writer, it seems to fit the pattern of Starks’s life: the willingness to try something new, again and again. And with the Salish Center, Starks has a strong purpose in mind.

The Salish Sea is a uniquely vibrant ecosystem rich with marine life like kelp, salmon and orcas. At the same time, the threats facing the Sea are significant, from overfishing – Starks’s focus – to polluted runoff and habitat destruction. “People need hope,” Starks says of the reason behind the Center’s many projects. “Once they learn about the Salish Sea, it’s life changing. They really care and want to do something.”

“I was born to fish and I didn’t know it,” Starks says. “[Now] I’ve fished these waters for more than 50 years, and I’ve seen the changes. There’s a lot of good news.”

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: instagram.com/waseagrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Who brings your seafood to you? An interview with Roger Bain, fisherman of the Makah Tribe

July 10, 2024

By Jess Davis, WSG Science Communications Fellow

Bain pulling up his catch. Photo courtesy of Roger Bain.

Growing up in Washington state and a member of the Makah Tribe, Roger Bain’s ancestral and more-recent family history might suggest that he was destined to become a fisherman. The Makah people refer to themselves as qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌, which translates approximately to “The People who live near the Rocks and the Seagulls.” Aquatic organisms are integral to the Makah way of life, and they fish everything from whales to salmon and herring. In the 20th century, Bain’s grandfather hunted seals. “It’s in the blood,” Bain says of the Makah and fishing.

When I first reached out to Bain to chat with him about his career as a fisherman, I was met with an approaching deadline. Bain expressed to me that we needed to chat, now or never, because halibut season opening day was fast approaching. He would not be available out on the water; that time is for the fish. The pressure was on–much like Bain’s introduction to commercial fishing back when he was still a boy.

When Bain was on the brink of adolescence, his parents thought that fishing could be the tool he needed to keep him out of trouble. At the age of 11, he was sent to live – and fish – with his older brother. Together, they trawled for trout and salmon: king, coho, and sockeye. Bain did not enjoy fishing much during these early days. But one fateful, chilly evening in the early 70s, he saw his brother pulling up fish and putting them in their boat. All at once, Bain was inspired to dedicate himself to learning the craft. That same night he decided to try his hand at fishing independently, unbeknownst to his brother. When Bain was caught, his brother proclaimed, “If you’re going to do it, you better do it right.” Bain’s brother began teaching him the ways of fishing. Eventually, Bain moved in with his brother permanently. He was fishing independently, and regularly, by the age of 16. 

Fishing has looked different for Bain over the course of his decades long career. While he started out targeting salmon, he eventually moved on to groundfish like halibut and black cod. Fishing for groundfish was different from fishing for salmon: the primary catch mechanism is  longlining instead of the gillnetting he grew up learning. There was a learning curve, but Bain pulled knowledge about longlining from his network of fellow fishermen to become successful. He was able to purchase his own boat and hire a crew to work for him. Purchasing his first boat at the young age of 24 is the event that Bain highlighted as the proudest moment of his career.

Bain’s experience fishing groundfish eventually led him to serve as the tribal representative on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s groundfish advisory council. Upon his appointment, it became clear that non-tribal fishermen did not understand the rules and regulations that tribal fishermen had to follow. For example, not only did Tribal fishermen have to follow the same federal regulations, but they also needed observers to collect real-time data of what is being caught and discarded onboard while fishing. Bain saw his appointment as an opportunity to “[sit] on the gap” between tribal and non-tribal fishermen’s best interests, a role he described as “positive and productive” for all parties involved.

Bain’s sons helping him out on the water. Photo courtesy of Roger Bain.

These days, Bain is back to fishing for salmon. He says that the landscape of salmon fisheries is vastly different today than it was back in the 70s and 80s. Considering this year’s World Fish Migration Day theme, the free flow of rivers, I figured that excessive damming in Washington’s rivers was partially to blame. Bain told me, “it’s more than dams.” He noted factors like nutrient pollution caused by septic systems bleeding into the water table and the population explosion of salmon predators. In 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed into law, protecting charismatic megafauna such as seals and sea lions from being hunted or captured. This law has been largely successful for Washington and Oregon seals. Bain explained that it was typical to see one or two seals back in the 70s, but today you see thousands of them year round. “When you put it all together, it spells trouble for the salmon,” he says. Bain has noticed that salmon abundance is much lower. Back when he first started fishing, an average day’s haul looked something like 500 fish when he worked alone. Now he’s lucky to pull up 300 in a day fishing with his son. Fish are also smaller than they were in years past.

Luckily, there are a number of salmon recovery efforts happening around Washington state. It is this kind of work that gives hope for the future of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and could keep Bain fishing with his sons for years to come.

 

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: instagram.com/waseagrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Who brings your seafood to you? An interview with Thomas Foster-Kibbler and Heather Auld of Foster Fisheries

January 24, 2024

By Alison Lorenz, WSG Science Writer

Thomas Foster-Kibbler. Photo courtesy of Heather Auld.

Before Thomas Foster-Kibbler got into commercial fishing, he wanted to be an EMT on a firefighting crew. He was living in sunny Los Angeles County, training to help others. The problem? He was spending all his spare time and cash sport fishing on charter boats and spending, as he says, “too much money to go fishing all the time.”

That’s when something clicked. Foster-Kibbler decided to try a career in fishing commercially, and found a new way to care for his community – through providing high quality, nutritious, locally caught seafood.

In one way or another, Foster-Kibbler has been fishing all his life. Growing up, he fished at every opportunity – with his grandfather and on family vacations early on, and sport fishing and working on charter boats as he grew older. Eventually, he began working on other commercial fishers’ boats. Asked what he likes so much about fishing, Foster-Kibbler’s answer was simple: “The freedom it offers. Being outside, seeing the sunrise and the sunset…mentally, it just felt good.”

He started out albacore fishing up and down the West Coast, eventually adding crab into the mix. Meeting and marrying his wife, Heather Auld, added her background in marine behavioral ecology and conservation to the pair’s expertise. When Foster-Kibbler’s Falcon Fishing Company bought a boat, the Falcon, in 2021, it allowed them to take things to the next level – and start bringing to life a vision they had for a fishing operation that was not only successful, but sustainable. The goal was to put in the time, care and attention to bring their customers the highest quality catch possible.

The Falcon, owned by Foster-Kibbler’s Falcon Fishing Company. Photo courtesy of Heather Auld.

Now, Foster-Kibbler catches juvenile albacore tuna and groundfish – including black cod, rockfish, sole, and lingcod. The cod, sole, and lingcod are caught using pots, while the albacore and rockfish are caught hook and line. This means that Foster-Kibbler and deckhands handle each fish individually. After they’re caught, the fish are bled, individually hung and blast frozen to super cold temperatures right on the boat. While Foster-Kibbler acknowledges there are “definitely more efficient” ways to catch and handle fish, this level of care ensures the final product is preserved at its optimal quality and freshness.

Quality and freshness aren’t traits customers always associate with frozen fish, something Foster Fisheries is working to change. “We definitely like to educate our customers – and generally, when they show up to the boat, they have a lot of questions,” Foster-Kibbler says of selling his frozen catch. Record-low tuna prices this past summer led he and Auld to begin directly marketing and selling to customers right off the Falcon. A big part of their job now is making sure people understand that fish frozen with today’s “quick-freezing” technology is just as good, if not better, than fresh fish put on ice. It’s just one of the challenges of direct marketing – but when all is said and done, Foster-Kibbler enjoys selling off the boat best: “I really like the customer engagement, educating people on our methods…It’s nice to have their questions get answered.”

In this new chapter, Foster-Kibbler and Auld are focused on reaching more people and growing their client base. Foster-Kibbler posts regular updates on Foster Fisheries’ Instagram, where customers can learn where the Falcon is docked and which fish are available to buy. He and Auld also want to advocate for resources that would help fishers just like them market and sell seafood directly to customers. For example, currently, due to food safety regulations, operations like Foster Fisheries aren’t able to process fish in ways that make it easier to sell on their boat; instead, they sell only whole fish. A public processing and storage facility where they could bring catch to cut into portions, vacuum pack and freeze, notes Auld, “would help customers buy fish off the dock [more easily]. It’s a cool experience…but it’s hard for a customer to buy a [whole] ten pound fish.”

It’s clear, however, that customers appreciate the extra care Foster Fisheries puts into their catch. Once, a customer sent a video of herself fileting a whole tuna fish she had bought. She used a spoon to scrape every last piece of meat from the bone, assuring Foster-Kibbler and Auld that none of it would go to waste. Another time, a customer dry-aged an albacore tuna, treating it like a fine steak. “Customers contacting Thomas directly and telling him how great the fish was or what they did with it,” Auld says, “[that’s] one of the things that’s really rewarding.”

While they most often sell in Westport, Foster Fisheries is planning their second trip to Seattle this February or March. Their Instagram is the best place to go for details. Wherever the Falcon takes them in the future, they’re excited to offer what they do best: high-quality, locally caught fish.

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: instagram.com/waseagrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Wild Seafood Connection to bring fishers and buyers to Bellingham in February

January 18, 2024

On February 29, members of the commercial fishing industry will have a chance to speak directly to their buyers – restaurants, retailers, brokers, and other seafood businesses  – at the Wild Seafood Connection conference, presented by the Port of Bellingham and produced by Colibri Northwest.  

Photo courtesy of Duna Fisheries, LLC

Formerly known as the Wild Seafood Exchange, the one-day conference aims to help independent fishing businesses directly market and sell their catch. Washington Sea Grant (WSG) was a sponsor for the previous incarnation for over 10 years. In addition to panel discussions, attendees will have the opportunity to take part in one-on-one roundtables on topics ranging from funding sources to small business case studies.

“It’s a unique opportunity for commercial fishers and seafood buyers to come together and learn from one another,” says Jenna Keeton, fisheries specialist at WSG and a speaker at the conference. “Whether you’re interested in simplifying your seafood supply chain, learning about different markets, seeking tips for better processing and distribution, or just want to know what technical resources are out there, that information will be available.”

Marketing and selling seafood products directly to buyers and customers can have many benefits, like increasing the price fishers receive for their seafood or ensuring a top quality product for customers. But in a complex regulatory environment, it can be difficult for independent fishers to get started, or to ramp up ongoing operations. Conferences like Wild Seafood Connection are one way to not only share knowledge and resources, but also to build community – and support local fishing economies in the process.

Wild Seafood Connection will take place Thursday, February 29 at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Bellingham, Washington. Washington, Oregon and California Sea Grants are gold sponsors for the event through a NOAA grant with Washington Sea Grant assisting in the concept and coordination of the panel program and program publicity. Registration is required; tickets and more information are available here.

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: instagram.com/waseagrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.