A Fathom Apart: A quick start guide for selling seafood to consumers.
Despite the current pandemic and universal feelings of uncertainty, Maine’s fishermen have a unique opportunity to communicate more with consumers about the amazing seafood they catch. As local consumers seek out ways to support their community, neighbors, and working waterfront, fishermen can offer them fresh, healthy, and delicious seafood.
But it’s important to consider a few things first.
Make sure you’re selling your product legally. Please visit the GMRI resource page and find the Maine Fishermen Guide to Direct Sales. If you have any questions you can reach out to us here at MCFA or Kyle Foley at GMRI. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reach out to your local marine patrol officer. (https://www.maine.gov/dmr/marine-patrol/marine-contact.html) In particular, Lt. Danny White (Division Head for Western Maine, working from the Boothbay Harbor Lab) is a suggested contact, at 207.633.9596, or by email at Daniel.E.White@maine.gov
Links to DMR-managed licenses can also be found on the DMR web page: https://www.maine.gov/dmr/commercial-fishing/licenses/
NOTE: You may also need licenses from other agencies, such as Dept of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and the Health Inspection Program (HIP) of the Division of Environmental and Community Health.
Talk about your product with the care & respect it deserves. This is an opportunity to both sell your product to make some money, as well as connect with consumers in new ways. Mainers are currently seeking out local seafood and attempting to support fishermen like they never have before. Let’s make sure that even after this crisis is over, they continue to want to support fishermen and buy local seafood.
On that note, please address that consumers may have expectations that once this crisis passes that they will continue to be able to buy directly from fishermen at lower prices. Do what you can to educate and communicate the realities of prices, but in a way that suggests you appreciate their continued support and hope they continue to buy Maine seafood. (Read this blog post from lobsterman Tom Santaguida about how is talking with consumers.)
Promote Maine seafood with key-value messages of great taste, sustainably caught or grown by local Maine fishermen and farmers.
Promote the connection to the producer; know who caught or grew your seafood! This is one of the great attributes of Maine life - and why people are attracted and move here; to chase the sense of community that they lack elsewhere.
Understand that not everyone is going to be the customer of the year. Feel free to share our email address with them to diffuse the situation. Say something like, “I’m sorry I’m unable to help with that but you can reach out to the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and they can answer your questions.” Our email is email@example.com
Demand a fair and comparable price. What are other fishermen selling their product for? Try not to undercut or devalue the worth of your product. This is a good time to share with consumers how much hard work goes into catching seafood or harvesting food from the ocean.
Promote your product on your social media and in Facebook groups where consumers and fishermen are being connected.
Sell your seafood safely.
Abide by the CDC guidelines and recommendations from the state.
Wear gloves (bait gloves, maybe?) and a mask.
Keep a 6-ft distance between you and your customer and sell in a place that allows your customers to also distance. (6-ft is 1 fathom for you fishermen)
Download apps like Venmo and PayPal so you don’t have to worry about cash or credit transactions. This makes it easy for the customers and limits your contact.
Put a table or bait trays in front of you to mark distances.
Create opportunities for customers to remain in their cars.