Scholarships are being offered to small- and medium-sized seafood businesses to help shape a new National Seafood Council. Its mission is to provide a unified voice for the industry to encourage Americans to eat more seafood.
A task force was formed in April 2021 by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership to get things underway. Linda Cornish is Partnership president –
“And some of the tasks coming up include designing the governance of the National Seafood Council, the makeup and responsibilities of the board members. And then also just to make sure that we’re representative of the entire seafood supply chain. We want to make sure that the task force is representative of size of companies, gender, geography around the US, and points all along the supply chain.”
Nominations are wanted from 6 to 8 seafood companies whose annual revenue is less than $20 million. The scholarships, backed by the Walton Family Foundation, will be based on a company’s revenues.
A National Seafood Council was created in 1987 as part of a Fish and Seafood Promotion Act but fizzled after five years.
In May 2021 a group of over 60 U.S. fishing companies, groups and medical professionals asked Congress to provide $25 million in seed money to revive a Council that would eventually become industry funded, similar to other industries.
“Seafood is probably one of the healthiest foods that people can eat. And there’s just not enough funding to get that message out. The milk industry has about $300 million a year to market their product, pork about $70 million a year, avocados about $50 million a year. Seafood doesn’t have that. And so for us to tell our story to the consumers in a more cohesive and unified way, we do need some help to get this council started, and provide that resource for the industry to have a marketing campaign to do the same as other food groups have.”
Cornish says the Seafood Council idea was well received in Congress –
“And so right now, we’re looking for some champions in Congress to spearhead that request on this group’s behalf. There’s just a lot of priorities being discussed on Capitol Hill. And so we just need to make sure that the needs of this National Seafood Council is heard by Congress.”
Americans overwhelmingly turned to seafood during the Covid pandemic and Cornish says the time is right to advance the health message.
“It supports immune health as we’re still fighting this Covid 19 pandemic. And it’s also great for brain development, and our heart health. And I think the industry is ready to work together in a more collaborative way to get this unified message out to the consumer. And I really think we do have the right window of time to do so.”
Deadline to apply for a task force scholarship is August 13. Find links at seafoodnutrition.org