Safe, Sustainable Seafood

Financial Planning and Marketing for Fishermen

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

With declining catches, fewer fish buyers, lower prices paid at landing and shrinking profit margins, commercial fishermen seek ways to increase the value of their catches through better handling, processing, storing, quality control and marketing. Since 2006, WSG and Philips Publishing Group have presented the Wild Seafood Exchange, an annual forum for Northwest and Alaska fishermen to discuss ways to start or improve direct marketing operations. The Exchange brings together fishermen, seafood buyers, restaurant operators, retail food dealers, and financial, business and marketing experts.
Participation in Seattle’s annual Pacific Marine Expo also offers opportunities to share information and discuss industry needs. In addition, WSG is helping create a financial- and business-planning toolkit to help fishermen boost their profitability to be delivered through the national Sea Grant network.


NOAA National Sea Grant Awards Washington Sea Grant Over 1 Million in Aquaculture Grants

September 19, 2019


NOAA National Sea Grant office announced today a suite of federal funding awards in aquaculture, with three of them going to Washington Sea Grant. The four awards, totaling $1,980,133, will support aquaculture research projects and collaborative programs aimed at advancing sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. The awards begin this fall and extend over three years.

Washington Sea Grant will lead the three projects, with key staff coordinating the research and collaborating on outreach with a broad range of partners.

West Coast Aquaculture Collaborative: 

Partner(s): Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association; Western Regional Aquaculture Center; Willapa Bay Oyster Growers Association; Agricultural Research Service; Pacific Shellfish Institute

Federal Funding: $1,193,009

Washington Sea Grant, Oregon Sea Grant, and California Sea Grant propose to form a collaborative unit to engage science and education partners, industry and resource management agencies in tackling complex, region-scale barriers to sustainable aquaculture on the West Coast. The operational approach is to launch the collaborative by participating in a pilot project that addresses an urgent need in shellfish aquaculture and builds on the collective strengths of the programs and partners. Outcomes of the three-year effort will include an effective collaborative structure, enhanced program capacity in two states, the completed pilot project, and scoping information and lessons learned to apply to future projects, as well as advanced oyster and clam aquaculture practices developed to address interactions specifically around eelgrass and burrowing shrimp challenges. If the pilot project is successful, it will represent progress toward a novel, replicable approach to other complex issues.

Seaweed lines of change: Laying the groundwork to advance the practice of sustainable seaweed farming in the Pacific Northwest

Partner(s): Puget Sound Restoration Fund; Hood Canal Mariculture

Federal Funding: $99,997

Washington Sea Grant, working with Hood Canal Mariculture and Puget Sound Restoration Fund, is proposing to develop and deliver a tiered training program for potential seaweed farmers in Washington State. This program consolidates the team’s practical seaweed farming knowledge gained through a collaboration with NOAA and the University of Washington, to assess the ability of cultivated sugar kelp to mitigate local ocean acidification. The program includes an online introductory half-day workshop and a multi-day intensive training; guidance documents and recorded instruction to be archived on a free online resource library. Research and stakeholder information needs identified during trainings and follow-on technical assistance are to be shared with Sea Grant programs to help inform the development of seaweed aquaculture program priorities in Washington and beyond.

Catalyzing a Cross-Pacific Regional Collaborative Hub to Advance Indigenous Aquaculture Practices and Enhance Marine Food Production for Cultural-Ecological Benefits

Partner(s): Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; Alaska Sea Grant; Hawaii Sea Grant; Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA); Puget Sound Restoration Fund; Northwest Indian College; Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Simon Fraser University; Western Washington University

Federal Funding: $587,127

Washington Sea Grant, Hawaii Sea Grant and Alaska Sea Grant aim to catalyze a cross-Pacific regional collaborative hub integrating research, outreach and education to advance sustainable Indigenous Aquaculture practices and enhance seafood production in the broader Pacific region. Indigenous Aquaculture management practices–including cultural modifications to nearshore environments such as Native Hawaiian fishponds and Northwest coastal indigenous clam gardens–have the potential to strengthen community access to traditional and customary foods, increase local seafood production, and deepen collaborative engagement between Sea Grant and local tribal communities for aquaculture advancement, climate adaptation, and coastal restoration. Integral to the success of the project is developing a community of practice that involves diverse partnerships and stakeholders, comprised of Sea Grant staff, Northwest tribes, Native Hawaiian communities, universities, minority-serving colleges, and local non-profit organizations. Activities include: convening two cross-regional summits to learn about local and regional examples of traditional Indigenous Aquaculture systems; conducting a comprehensive assessment of cross-Pacific Indigenous Aquaculture; advancing existing restoration sites and collecting ecological baseline data on the effects of intertidal modifications on the nearshore ecosystem; and strategic planning for future Sea Grant engagements and investments in Indigenous Aquaculture. Additionally, the collaborative will support inclusive workforce and leadership development through fellowships and internships for students from historically underrepresented or underserved colleges.

Nurturing the Successful Growth and Maturation of a Domestic Seaweed Aquaculture Industry: Identifying and Removing Barriers and Promoting Opportunities

Lead: Connecticut Sea Grant
Partners: Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Aquaculture; Cape Cod Cooperative Extension; Washington Department of Agriculture; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Washington Department of Natural Resources; Hood Canal Mariculture, Inc.; Puget Sound Restoration Fund; The Suquamish Tribe; The Sustainable Collective; Alaska Sea Grant; Maine Sea Grant; New Hampshire Sea Grant; National Sea Grant Law Center; New York Sea Grant; Oregon Sea Grant; ; Rhode Island Sea Grant; WHOI Sea Grant; Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program

Federal Funding: $1,085,131

Connecticut Sea Grant, in partnership with Washington Sea Grant and the other above state programs, is proposing to establish a National Sea Grant Seaweed Hub. The topic-based Hub would serve as a central clearinghouse for available science-based, non-proprietary, practical resources related to previous and current seaweed aquaculture research and extension efforts. The Seaweed Hub would enable Sea Grant programs as well as federal and state agencies to access current information to guide their own planning and outreach efforts. The establishment of the Seaweed Hub will also provide seaweed aquaculture stakeholders with the information they need to make better informed decisions.

Public Comment Sought for Washington Sea Grant Site Review

September 20, 2019

Washington Sea Grant will be reviewed on November 5 -7, 2019 by a team convened by the National Sea Grant Program.

The review will be conducted at the University of Washington campus and will consider all aspects of the WSG program including management and organization, performance, stakeholder engagement and collaborative activities, including those with various offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This notice invites you to participate in our review. Please submit written comments by Monday, October 21, 2019 to the National Sea Grant Office at

Thank you!

Recreational Harvest Program

Jeff Adams, Marine Ecologist and Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

WSG offers opportunities for citizens of all ages to learn how to recreationally harvest marine and shoreline species and how to do so safely, legally and sustainably. Join local experts, experienced harvesters and Sea Grant staff in the classroom and in the field.
Best of all, WSG can help you to enjoy the healthy, nutritious fruits of your labors.


Seafood Quality and Handling Training for Tribal Fishermen

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

Fish and shellfish have traditionally been central to the economies and cultures of Western Washington’s tribal communities. But today’s tribal harvesters face limited markets and stiff competition. They can overcome these obstacles with improved catch handling and storage techniques, and by marketing unique local products such as the Olympic coast’s marbled king salmon. Working with the Nisqually, Quinault, Lummi and other tribes, WSG provides training in seafood quality improvement and marketing, increasing the profitability of their fisheries.
WSG also collaborates with the Lummi Nation to expand its retail seafood market, which serves Bellingham and Whatcom County and provides an outlet for both fresh catches and more profitable value-added products. WSG also works with the Washington Troller’s Association and Makah Tribe to introduce chefs, food writers and restaurateurs to the distinctive marbled salmon through its annual lunch event at a premier Seattle restaurant.

Seafood Training for Meatcutters

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist and Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Many customers wonder whether the fish they eat are clean, healthy, high-quality, and sustainably caught. Often they direct these questions to workers behind supermarket seafood counters who wish they could help customers find the answers. Based on a survey of meatcutters and seafood department managers in several local grocery chains, WSG designed a 12-hour seafood retail training program for apprentice meatcutters.
This program is offered in conjunction with the meatcutter apprenticeship programs of South Seattle Community College and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. After the trainings, apprentices are evaluated on their retention of seafood information and surveyed about customer knowledge and training impacts.

State of the Oyster Study: Testing Shellfish for Health and Safety

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Shellfish need clean water to thrive. Pollutants can destroy their beds, and bacteria taken up by shellfish can sicken people who eat them. WSG’s State of the Oyster Study is a citizen science monitoring program that trains waterfront property owners to test the safety of their shellfish before consumption. Four times a year, residents gather clams and oysters at low tide and bring them to WSG to be tested for Vibrio parahaemolyticus and bacterial indicators of fecal contamination. WSG then helps participants interpret the test results and, if necessary, works closely with them to identify and remedy sources of contamination.

The WSG Well Education and Testing program (WET)

WET is offered in tandem with the State of the Oyster Study. Testing your well water is the best way to identify possible contamination. The WSG WET provides homeowners with a local, inexpensive way to test well water.


Wild Seafood Exchange

Paul Dye, Assistant Director for Outreach and Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist 

WSG is a sponsor of the annual Wild Seafood Exchange, serving independent commercial fishermen who want to learn about marketing, especially direct marketing to restaurants, retailers, brokers and seafood buyers. Wild Seafood Exchange is an nine-year partnership between WSG and Philips Publishing (Fishermen’s News), designed to help commercial fishermen who want to sell directly or are currently selling directly to the public, restaurants and retail grocers.
The annual exchange provides the information and experience fishermen need to enhance their businesses. Attendees gather to hear panel discussions on processing and cold storage, what restaurants and retailers want, experiences from other direct marketers, new websites to help their business, and policy and regulatory issues.