The development of local food markets has provided a critical economic opportunity for small farms in New England. The collapse of Gulf of Maine groundfish stocks has motivated an interest in developing similar marketing opportunities for wild-caught, locally abundant seafood. Institutions, particularly schools and colleges, have been identified as a strategic entry point in the supply chain for such products. However, there has been a dearth of research on this topic. We undertake a case study that evaluates purchases of local groundfish by schools and colleges in New England. First, we analyze recently developed secondary data to assess the propensity and frequency of local seafood purchases. We find that local seafood purchases by schools in New England are not widespread even among the subset of schools that are undertaking farm to school activities, and that schools that are purchasing local seafood are doing so infrequently. We also find that colleges have been more proactive in sourcing local seafood products. There is a high degree of state-level variation within New England, as institutions in states with relatively more prominent commercial fishing sectors are sourcing local seafood products to a relatively greater degree. Further, colleges explicitly expressed that technical assistance in sourcing sustainable seafood products would be most beneficial in regions where there was less available supply. Second, to draw further inferences about the sustainability of local seafood purchases, we report the results of seafood procurement procedures from New England colleges. We find that these colleges source a wide variety of local groundfish principally for on-campus dining and that they place high value on seafood certification schemes as guidance for making sustainable purchases. We conclude by reviewing how data collection methods for local agricultural markets could be modified with regard to seafood distribution systems.
O'Hara, Jeffrey K. and McClenachan, Loren
"Missing the Boat? Measuring and Evaluating Local Groundfish Purchases by New England Institutions,"
Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics:
1, Article 2.
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