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Regional Brand Builds Markets for Gulf of Maine Seafood

Jan 5, 2014
Winter 2014

Gulf of Maine seafood competes in a massive global marketplace -- one in which the United States imports 91% of its seafood. Communicating to consumers that the region's fishing industry is one of the most effectively and tightly managed in the world is vital in order to build greater value for Gulf of Maine seafood. 

The Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested brand provides consumers a way to identify seafood that is traceable to the Gulf of Maine and meets criteria around responsible harvest. The label, which appears in Hannaford, Shaw's, and Big Y stores throughout the region, enables consumers to support seafood products they can feel good about, and it rewards the harvesters and suppliers of traceable and responsibly harvested products through market differentiation. 

A species carrying the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested label has been verified by GMRI against important criteria that were developed with input from the scientific community and a diverse group of stakeholders. Thus far, ten species have been verified by GMRI, and the verification of additional species continues. Currently, GMRI is putting an external review panel in place to contribute to the robustness of the verification process. 

The philosophy behind the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program is to affect change by engaging with the whole supply chain. GMRI works with seafood dealers, as well as retailers, to ensure traceability throughout the supply chain all the way to the point of sale. The program's goals are to make lasting improvements in the demand for and value of Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested seafood. After only two years in existence, impacts are being seen. The successes of the program are detailed in a report being published by GMRI this January. In one example, Hannaford has increased its promotion of pollock from the Gulf of Maine region because of the program, resulting in a 93% jump in sales in 2012. As the program grows, it aims to continue expanding the market and increasing the value for Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested species, while simultaneously raising consumer awareness of the bountiful seafood options available from the Gulf of Maine.

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