There still is a perception that fresh seafood is always better than frozen.

But that’s typically not the case.

Most fresh fish, largely imported, are shipped long distances and can sit for a week or more before being purchased. Now a Sitka fishermen’s group has set out to counteract the stereotype and show that frozen fish has clear advantages over fresh.

“We’ve been working since we started Alaskans Own, our Community Supported Fishery program in 2009 to promote frozen seafood”

Alyssa Russell is Communications Manager for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.

“As we started expanding our CSF program to different areas and started selling our fish in bulk, especially to the Lower 48, we realized it is still a stereotype in many places that fresh seafood is better quality than frozen.”

With a $100,000 USDA grant from the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program, ALFA partnered last summer with Ecotrust and Oregon State University to put it to the test.

They did a blind taste test of never frozen and flash frozen salmon and black cod with more than 100 test subjects  –

“Essentially what was found was that customers liked frozen fish as much or more than they liked the fresh fish from the local grocery stores.”

Most people, Russell says, aren’t aware of how far and long a fresh fish has traveled. A multi-media outreach campaign is in the works to tell that story.

One thing we would like to work on is bringing some of that information to consumers about what exactly that fish went through from being caught to being frozen, or from being flown fresh to you. A lot of people don’t have any idea that a boat may be out at sea for a week before it comes in with fish. The material we hope to create would touch on all of that.”

The Ecotrust report said that nearly a quarter of all fresh seafood at supermarkets goes to waste. That would be reduced if more Americans accepted frozen choices.

ALFA’s outreach campaign also will highlight how choosing frozen directly benefits small boat  Alaska fishing businesses by giving fishermen  more market flexibility.

“It takes a lot of the risk out of the market for fishermen because they can choose to target a different kind of fish or they can wait to sell a certain type of fish until the market changes. They can choose not to fish when the weather is bad because they have more flexibility as to how their fish will be stored.”

Find links to the Fresh Look at Frozen Fish report here.