Seafood Promotion Task Group
Task Group of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, exploring the concept of a National Seafood Council as a mechanism to support the U.S. seafood industry.
Concept for a National Seafood Council
For the past two years, the Seafood Task Group under the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), has been looking into what the government can do to help improve consumer confidence in, and subsequently consumption of, U.S. seafood in the United States.
The Task Group believes there is a need to elevate the narrative of the nutritional value and inherent sustainability behind the management practices and harvesting of U.S. wild capture and U.S. aquaculture seafood products. They have identified that increasing the consumption of U.S. seafood could directly improve the health of the American people, and facilitating this is not only in the best interest of the seafood industry but also a service to the public.
One of the potential tools they have identified to address this is the Fish and Seafood Promotion Act. They are investigating the potential the Act may provide the seafood industry to stand up a National Seafood Council that could execute marketing, research, and education to benefit the industry as a whole.
Panels, Presentations, and Feedback
Starting in November 2018, MAFAC began engaging members of the seafood industry on this topic in forums including panels, presentations, and individual interviews. Their goal has been to gather diverse industry input and perspectives on industry needs in the marketplace with regard to promotion and education, as well as potential challenges and benefits of establishing a National Seafood Council. Their work has also included engagement with subject matter experts on federally overseen agricultural commodity programs.
Visit the following links to view materials from past MAFAC engagements:
May 29, 2020 Webinar panel hosted by SeafoodSource, "How Do We Increase Consumption in the U.S.– Is It Time to Revisit the Idea of a National Seafood Council?"
- Panelists (MAFAC members): Megan Davis, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute; Roger Berkowitz, Legal Seafoods LLC; Stefanie Morelands, Trident Seafood; Sebastian Belle, Maine Aquaculture Association
- Presentation slides (PDF, 18 pages)
- Recording of webinar
October 15, 2019, MAFAC meeting presentation and panel, "Seafood Promotion in the United States– Looking to USDA Boards for Lessons Learned and Existing Frameworks for Marketing of Generic Commodities"
- Panelists: Heather Pichelman, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service; Mary Anne Hansan, Paper and Packaging Board; Steve Lovett, formerly Softwood Lumber Board
- Annotated agenda (PDF, 5 pages)
- Seafood Promotion Task Group Update presentation slides (PDF, 10 pages)
- USDA Agricultural Marketing Service presentation slides (PDF, 19 pages)
May 1, 2019, MAFAC meeting panel, "U.S. Seafood Promotion and the Fish and Seafood Promotion Act"
- Panelists: Bill DiMento, High Liner Foods; Janna Hennig, Posi+ively Groundfish; Randy Rhodes, Harvest Select Seafood and Harvest Select Catfish
- Background paper (PDF, 3 pages)
November 7, 2018, Fish and Seafood Promotion Act presentation and panel, "Elevating Consumer Confidence in U.S. Seafood"
- NOAA Fisheries presentation on the Fish and Seafood Promotion Act
- Panelists: John Connelly, National Fisheries Institute; Linda Cornish, Seafood Nutrition Partnership; Steve Markenson, Food Marketing Institute
Recommendations to the Agency
The Task Group is currently in the stage of finalizing their draft recommendations, which they plan to submit to the full Committee for consideration prior to the upcoming June 29-July 1, 2020 MAFAC meeting. At this meeting, the Committee plans to discuss and vote on the recommendations. This meeting will be open to the public and virtually accessible-- please visit the MAFAC Meeting Materials and Summaries page for information on the agenda and instructions for joining in the coming weeks. Finalized recommendations will also be posted online, once available.
What is the Fish and Seafood Promotion Act?
The Fish and Seafood Promotion Act (FSPA) of 1986 (16 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.) was established with the articulated goal to promote the consumption of domestically harvested seafood. It established two Federally managed marketing capabilities:
(1) Congressionally funded National Fish and Seafood Promotion Council:
- First, it set up a congressionally funded National Fish and Seafood Promotion Council (National Council) for a period of five years (1987-1991), which was funded at $10.75M (equal to approximately $25M USD in 2019) through the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act funds.
- The National Council was comprised of industry representatives who directed the spending of the congressionally appropriated dollars to fund a national level, generic seafood marketing and education campaign to benefit the industry as a whole.
- NOAA provided oversight to ensure funds were spent appropriately and to validate the content of their messaging.
- Per the legislation, the National Council sunset in 1991 and was not reauthorized.
- Interviews with individuals involved noted the original appropriation was considered “seed money,” with the goal of industry to take on the financing after this initial 5-year period.
(2) Industry assessment-funded boards:
- Second, the FSPA provides the ability for the Secretary of Commerce or its designee (NOAA Fisheries) to approve and oversee individual, industry-funded seafood marketing councils for specific types of seafood commodities-- “one or more species.”
- To propose a board, the industry or the Secretary of Commerce must draft and propose a charter and provide a list of industry members that would be subject to assessment. If NOAA Fisheries found the proposed charter to be legally permissible, it would conduct a referendum among industry. If greater than 50% voted in favor, the council would be established.
- The FSPA also requires that NOAA Fisheries approve or reject proposed individual seafood marketing plans based on the accuracy and scientific validity of the information they present.
- This authority of the FSPA has never been implemented because the seafood industry has never proposed a board to the agency. In 2007, the tuna industry expressed interest in establishing a board, but never put forward a proposal.
- In 1996, the regulations implementing the FSPA were removed from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as part of a government-wide Presidential regulatory reform effort. Yet, though the implementing regulations were withdrawn from the CFR, the Act itself remained in effect, and new regulations for the individual seafood promotion councils were drafted in 2006 and finalized in 2007 in response to expressed interest from the tuna industry.
- This second capability was established in perpetuity, and is similar in structure to USDA’s Commodity Act, the authority under which industry funded agricultural commodity boards are overseen by USDA. Visit USDA's website to learn more about these existing agricultural commodity board efforts.