With 90 percent of U.S. seafood consumption coming from fish imported from other countries, New York State is looking to identify ways to promote locally caught seafood through legislation recently signed by Governor Cuomo that will create a New York State Seafood Marketing Task Force. The bill was supported by State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle.
The Task Force will address ways to grow resources and data available to the State’s local fishermen, aquaculturists and associated small businesses, develop the marketing of and sustainability of New York seafood, and examine previous studies, pilot programs and initiatives of both New York and other states to find the most effective seafood marketing practices.
“The fishing and seafood industry is a critical part of Long Island’s and New York State’s economy. It is imperative that these industries be competitive and sustainable. In recent month’s Senator LaValle and I have initiated new initiatives to promote these goals,” Assemblyman Thiele stated. “Earlier this fall, we brought the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to Long Island to meet with our fishermen to explore existing barriers to a viable commercial fishery such as inequitable federal quotas and the existing restrictive state licensing scheme. Also important is growing New York State’s market share of the increasing demand for seafood.”
State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Economic Development, and the State Department of State will direct the Task Force.
“The fishing industry is a significant part of the fabric of the East End. It is essential that we provided the proper assistance and tools to enable this community to thrive,” relayed Senator Ken LaValle. “Assemblyman Thiele and I continually advocate for this vital industry. I am pleased that the Governor has signed our legislation to create the NY Seafood Marketing Task Force into Law and I am confident the Task Force will stimulate activity for this important economic segment.”
The Task Force will present a series of roundtable meetings held in each region of New York with a pertinent seafood industry stakeholder. Locally, at least two roundtable meetings will take place on Long Island. Following the meetings, which will conclude on September 1, 2018, the Task Force will outline their findings, as well as proposed solutions, and submit them to the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Temporary President of the Senate by September 30, 2019.
Stakeholders will include Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, New York Sea Grant Program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as several members of the local seafood industry.
Additionally, a $65,000 state grant awarded to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program will also address ways to encourage locally caught seafood as a feasible option to fish imported.
“When making a seafood purchase it is important to remember that Long Island ‘F.I.S.H.’ is Fresh, Indigenous, Sustainable and Healthy. Presently, overseas seafood imports comprise over 90 percent of seafood consumption. These imports are often unregulated and mislabeled,” Fisheries Specialist Kristin Gerbino said. “Imports compete unfairly with local products depressing price and value resulting in price stagnation for local, sustainably-harvested fish. Choosing local seafood is better for your health, as well as the health of the local economy and commercial fishing industry.”
“Whether it is the commercial fisherman, aquaculturists, seafood wholesalers or processors, restaurants, or seafood stores, the future of these small businesses is critical to the heritage and the future of Long Island,” Assemblyman Thiele added. “This Task Force will assure that New York State aggressively pursues policies to insure that they thrive.”