The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a catastrophic event for the Gulf of Mexico and its bordering states.
But Alabama was swift and determined to bounce back. In 2011, the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission was formed by Governor Robert Bentley, and in 2012 the Alabama Gulf Seafood campaign was officially launched.
A brand was created to help promote the high safety standards, variety of product, commitment to local product, and hard-working employees of Alabama’s seafood industry. To support the brand, a logo and website were created, and the good word about Alabama Gulf Seafood was spread through news stories, grassroots efforts, PR partnerships, social media, and merchandise.
In 2017, we’ll be celebrating five years of evangelizing on behalf of the fine folks of Alabama’s seafood industry, and we’ve made some significant progress. Here are a few of the strides we’ve made thanks to your help.
*Note: We’re still calculating some of the numbers for 2016. As soon as we have those numbers available, we’ll publish those in a new piece.
Folks in other parts of the country may not think of Alabama when they think of beaches. And true, there’s only 53 miles of coastline to our great state.
But the bounty of that coastline produces a crucial piece of Alabama’s economy. And thankfully, the production numbers are rising.
In 2010, after Deepwater Horizon, the economic impact from Alabama’s seafood industry was just over $300 million. However, by 2012, that number had risen dramatically to $445 million, and by 2014 Alabama’s seafood industry had more than doubled its 2010 output to the tune of $660 million.
That’s a lot of locals and visitors eating fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood. And it’s a key component to the prosperity of our state.
As our economic growth continues to improve, more and more hard-working men and women are being called upon to harvest, process, prepare, and serve Alabama Gulf Seafood.
In 2010, the number of jobs related to Alabama’s commercial fishing industry amounted to 6,200+. Those numbers began to steadily climb, however—by 2012, 10,000+ were employed in those same roles, and that number increased to a hearty 15,000+ jobs in 2014.
And that’s just our commercial fishing sector. If you add in chefs, restaurateurs, processors, and a whole lot of other important roles, you’re looking at thousands and thousands of jobs just here in Alabama.
Based on those economic impact numbers, you might be wondering just how much product we harvest on an annual basis.
Thankfully, after some habitats were damaged in 2010, Alabama’s many delicious seafood populations are maintaining and improving.
In 2010, our Alabama Gulf Seafood harvest was 14 million pounds—which may sound like a lot, but not as high as we like it. Thankfully, in 2012, that number rose to 25 million pounds and then rose again to 30 million pounds in 2014.
Thanks to years of hard work to increase our seafood populations through fisheries enhancements, artificial and oyster reef construction, and other measures, these numbers are still rising.
Reaching an Audience
Alabama Gulf Seafood is a wonderful story, and we’re proud that we get to tell it every day through our website and social media channels.
Each of those channels was built from scratch in 2012, which presented a challenge. Thankfully, Alabama Gulf Seafood fans responded positively and swiftly; nowadays, we’re sitting at 25,000+ Facebook followers, 9,000+ Twitter followers, 4,000+ Instagram followers, and 8,000+ subscribers to our enewsletter.
As for our web visitors, since launching in the spring of 2012, we’ve gained more than 892,000 page views from over 398,000 users. Best of all, that’s from users all over the world.
Now whenever we’ve got news and notes to share, we know we’ve got an audience. And we hear from that audience every day, with folks chiming in to tell us about their latest catch, their most recent meal in the kitchen, or when they spot Alabama Gulf Seafood at their favorite restaurants.
Spreading the Word
Rather than solely depending on our audience to come to us, our public relations team sought out sponsorships and partnerships to spread the good word.
In some instances, that meant creating our own events and inviting our supporters to celebrate Alabama Gulf Seafood with us. In 2013, we held the inaugural Alabama Seafood Summit, then in 2015 we added in the inaugural Alabama Seafood Cook-Off, now a tandem event that helps us promote every corner of Alabama’s seafood industry.
Additionally, we’ve helped promote events throughout the state, including the Hangout Music Festival, Hangout Oyster Cook-Off, Sloss Music & Arts Festival, and the Episcopal Place Gumbo Gala.
For all the foodies out there, you may have crossed our path in other ways. In 2014, one of our online articles was republished in Cooking Light, and for the craft beer fans, you may have noticed our logo on bottles of Back Forty Brewing Co. beers since 2014 to emphasize that Alabama Gulf Seafood pairs well with craft beer.
For the fashion-minded folks, one of our early highlights was a partnership with renowned menswear designer Billy Reid. Now a Florence, AL native, Reid partnered with us for a line of shirts, hats, and posters on two different occasions.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few awards. Our program administrator Chris Blankenship won the first ever Fisheries Conservationist of the Year in 2016 from the Alabama Wildlife Federation, our good friend Chris Nelson of Bon Secour Fisheries won Supplier of the Year in 2013 from the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance, and our chairman Jim Smith is currently still in the running on Bravo’s Top Chef.
Those 53 miles of coastline produce fresh Gulf seafood that’s shipped all over the country—but we’re particularly proud of our local restaurants, retailers, and processors that help us promote Alabama product.
All in all, that includes 440+ businesses that sell Alabama Gulf Seafood to consumers and other businesses. And some of those businesses have gone above and beyond to feature Alabama Gulf Seafood, including Baumhower’s, Original Oyster House, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Acre, Five Point Public House Oyster Bar, Kitchen on George, Flora-Bama Yacht Club, The Hangout, and Saltwater Grill at the Grand Hotel.
But we also love encouraging our supporters to go out and catch Alabama fish themselves. That’s why we’re happy to highlight 90+ charter boats along Alabama’s Gulf Coast that’ll help you reel in some fresh catches.
And once you reel ‘em in, we’ve got 125+ recipes on our website from chefs and restaurateurs all throughout the state.
So there you have it—five years of spreading the good word about Alabama Gulf Seafood, from the bays of Mobile to the foothills of Appalachia and everywhere in between.
We’re honored to represent and work with such a large, diverse, and thriving community of men and women who are passionate about what they do. And because of them—and because of you, supporter, and those like you who eat Alabama Gulf Seafood—we’re looking forward to more great years promoting a product we’re proud of.