04.24.2014

New Informational Site Helps Buyers Understand the Sustainability of Gulf Seafood

Seafood buyers and other interested parties now have access to a one-stop-shop for the information they need to be confident that seafood harvested from state-managed fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is sustainable. Launching at Seafood Expo North America, GulfFishInfo.org, or Gulf FINFO, gathers information from fisheries experts from across the Gulf states and puts easy to understand, science-based facts about Gulf state fisheries at the public’s fingertips. “The site will be a valuable tool in communicating this previously unpublished or hard to find information. With the species data broken down by state, plus overviews from a Gulf perspective, buyers have everything they’re looking for to make sound purchasing decisions,” said Chris Blankenship, Director of the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Program Administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.

A collaboration among the five Gulf states, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC), and NOAA Fisheries, Gulf FINFO provides a platform for these authorities to communicate how they conserve and manage fisheries in Gulf state waters. Gulf FINFO complements FishWatch.gov, which covers fisheries in federal waters. “FINFO will be a great regional tool for introducing the public to state fisheries management,” stated Chief of External Affairs for NOAA Fisheries Communications Office Laurel Bryant. “We are pleased that it includes federally managed species by linking to FishWatch.gov. This collaboration with the Commission and states underscores the importance of partnerships necessary for successful marine fisheries management in the U.S.”

Gulf FINFO profiles top Gulf fisheries, with information ranging from basics about species biology and habitat to how fisheries operate and how each state ensures these operations are sustainable. Through FINFO, users can quickly review the status of Gulf
fisheries resources or dig deeper to understand the robust science and responsible management at work to ensure these resources are viable for generations to come. According to GSMFC FINFO Coordinator Alex Miller, “This site is our response to a previously unmet need in the Gulf seafood industry, providing a tool through which buyers can understand the status of the seafood they purchase, and it fulfills the mission of the Commission by bringing the Gulf states together to promote Gulf fisheries.”

Gulf FINFO uses education, rather than advocacy, to help seafood buyers appreciate the unique environment of the Gulf and demonstrate that Gulf seafood is not only world-famous but sustainable, too. “For decades, our biologists, managers, and fishing industry have worked hard to ensure Louisiana’s fisheries operate sustainably and continue to provide some of the best quality, best tasting seafood on the market,” stated Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina. “And now, through FINFO, we’re able to clearly explain this to the world.”

The initial industry response has been positive. According to Carl Salamone, Vice President of Seafood Sustainability for Wegmans Food Markets, “Wegmans is very excited about the creation of this program with regards to sustainability of Gulf Seafood. This will enable us to educate our seafood folks who in turn educate our customers. We find more and more of our customers asking questions on the seafood we offer from this region. Being able to answer these questions with the help of the Gulf FINFO site will be a win-win.”

CONTACT:
Alex Miller
Staff Economist
GSMFC
228-875-5912
finfo@gsmfc.org

Katie Semon
Public Information Officer
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
504-286-8742
ksemon@wlf.la.gov