Funding Secured, Positively Groundfish Pushes Forward on West Coast Groundfish Research & Marketing

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] by Susan Chambers – July 5, 2018 – Reprinted with permission

In a world where salmon garners much of the attention, a West Coast collaboration is getting noticed and gaining confidence for a less popular kind of fish: Positively Groundfish was recently notified it will receive funding through the 2018 Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grants Program.

Positively Groundfish is the new handle for the West Coast Groundfish Marketing Initiative. It will receive $299,899 to gain market insight and baseline market performance metrics for groundfish in the domestic market; increase awareness and trial for MSC-certified rockfish and sole among decision-makers (chefs, retail/foodservice buyers) and influencers (food journalists/bloggers, foodies); and increase the availability of rockfish and sole in the domestic retail, foodservice and institutional markets.

The Oregon Trawl Commission is the listed funding recipient since Positively Groundfish didn’t have a system in place to receive and use the funds at the time of the S-K application. The Commission was one of the founding collaborators for the project and had a system in place to receive the funds, past Commission Director Brad Pettinger said Tuesday.

The Positively Groundfish project, Staging a market come-back for West Coast groundfish, includes the Marine Stewardship Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, Bornstein Seafoods, Pacific Seafood and the California Shellfish Company and the Trawl Commission as collaborators. Oregon State University, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife support the project as advisory members as well.

“The website went up [maybe] a month ago,” Pettinger said, noting that Positively Groundfish Director Jana Hennig has put a lot of work into preparing to get the project moving once funding was secured. She was also making contingency plans in case the project was turned down.

Now, though, Positively Groundfish is telling the story of West Coast groundfish: the development of the fishery, the boom times, the bust times, the recovery.

“Seven overfished stocks of rockfish have been rebuilt, many ahead of schedule,” Positively Groundfish states on its website. “By-catch levels have been reduced dramatically and thousands of miles of fish habitat are protected. In acknowledgement of these remarkable improvements, the Marine Stewardship Council certified 13 species of West Coast groundfish in 2014, and the Seafood Watch Program has listed many as Best Choice.”

In short, these are all positive things. Positively Groundfish aims to get groundfish to the market and rebuild the industry and the communities.

“[Hennig’s] been thinking outside the box,” Pettinger said. “… It’s a great opportunity for us to re-introduce West Coast groundfish to folks.”

Photo courtesy of Positively Groundfish