Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics

Document Type

Research Article


The Gulf of Maine fishing industry continues to be a major economic driver throughout the region, integrating culture, history, and development across working waterfronts spanning thousands of miles from Cape Cod Massachusetts in the south to Nova Scotia Canada in the north. Local seafood harvesting and consumption attract visitors from around the world to enjoy the abundance of lobster, clams, mussels and oysters from the Gulf of Maine. What tourists and residents alike may not understand is the opportunity of other species that are plentiful, economical and delicious. Coupled with the local food movement, underutilized seafood presents additional potential especially within the environmental-conscious consumer groups. Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate seafood consumption, species preferences, and eco-label knowledge within one such consumer setting (higher education, college campus setting). College students from the University of Southern Maine were surveyed in the fall of 2017 (N=227) and spring of 2018 (N=320). Most consume seafood regularly, with more than half of participants eating fish or shellfish weekly or monthly. Top species preferences were salmon, shrimp and tuna, followed by local New England fare, ending with underutilized fish species being the least popular. Recognition of seafood eco-labeling trended positively, yet reading of educational outreach was poor despite strong desire for sustainable, local, healthy food. Study participants viewed cost as the top barrier for consuming local seafood. When offered at a price equivalent, lack of visibility was the top impediment for purchasing the underutilized fish entrée. To summarize, this study demonstrates strong demand for regionally and responsibly harvested seafood while highlighting the need for improved communication to market such seafood.

USM Seafood Consumer Survey Fall 2017.docx (1774 kB)
Supplemental Materials -- Part 1 Survey Instrument

USM Seafood Consumer Survey Spring 2018.docx (146 kB)
Supplemental Materials -- Part 2 Survey Instrument

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.