For the second year, the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) hosted its Alabama Gulf Seafood Summit in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Industries. More than 120 people from around the region made up of major distributors, seafood processors, restaurants, local and state officials and members of the Gulf seafood community gathered to discuss important topics regarding an industry that provides a more than $499 million statewide economic impact and 11,000 jobs in coastal Alabama alone.
“We have two main purposes for this Summit,” said Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama Marine Resources and program administrator of the ASMC. “Our first goal is to discuss issues that affect the seafood industry and work to find solutions and share knowledge that will help all the businesses both small and large compete regionally, nationally and internationally. Second, and most importantly and unashamedly, we are here to help everyone to do business, increase sales and help the economy here and all over the state of Alabama.”
The event kicked-off April 22 with an evening reception featuring Alabama Gulf Seafood and continued April 23 with panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities that spanned topics of traceability and sustainability; important decision-making issues for restaurateurs, grocers and major distributors; resources available to grow businesses from state and local organizations; and an update on the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Gulf Environment Benefit Fund and RESTORE Act.
Members from all corners of the seafood industry as well as state and local elected officials gathered to support and engage in important dialogue to discuss the future of the Alabama Gulf Seafood industry. Speakers included:
- Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan
- Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Curtis Jones
- Local elected officials Rep. Steve McMillan, Rep. David Sessions and Sen. Bill Hightower
- Seafood buyers from Whole Foods, Sysco Gulf Coast, Inland Seafood and US Foods
- Representatives from the restaurant industry such as Lulu’s Homeport Marina and the Original Oyster House
- Presenters from Gulf Seafood Trace and AquaSouth; Coastal Alabama Partnership, Mobile Chamber of Commerce and Baldwin Chamber of Commerce; the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries; and the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Participants engaged actively in the day’s events. “We appreciate all the men and women who work in the Gulf seafood industry,” said Blankenship. “We invited distributors, restaurants and retailers whose customers want our quality product. Our purpose of the Summit was to bring all levels of the Gulf seafood industry together and facilitate the relationships it takes to do business and keep that business moving forward. And I believe we’ve done that successfully for a second year.”