Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

December 14, 2020

Two new promotions seek to shore up Maine's seafood industry

PHOTO / FRED FIELD A new branding and promotion initiative aims to build on the pandemic-driven increase in retail seafood sales. Seen here is Hugh Reynolds, owner of Stonington lobster dealership Greenhead Lobster, who this year leveraged relationships to build the retail market when wholesale outlets crashed.

Two new initiatives are underway to support Maine’s seafood industry through the downturn it has experienced this year.

The state has launched a promotion aimed at home cooks, who have been one of the bright spots for seafood sales this year.  

And on Dec. 16, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland will hold “Split the Seafood Bill Day,” an initiative that will cover half the cost of meals that include seafood sourced from the Gulf of Maine at any of 20 participating restaurants for the first 200 diners.

Branding and promotion website

The Maine Department of Marine Resources, with support from Gov. Janet Mills, launched the branding and promotion initiative last week with a $1 million investment from $20 million in CARES Act relief funds allocated for Maine's commercial fishing and seafood industry.

The largest wholesale markets for Maine seafood traditionally include restaurants and food service. With those industries shut down or sharply curtailed, marketing shifted to retail sales aimed at home cooks. 

In the lobster industry, the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative and individual dealers scrambled to find new retail markets — catering to home chefs, advertising on consumer media outlets such as Real Simple and Thrillist, and building on existing relationships with grocers. As a result, retail lobster sales have been a fairly stable segment this year.

Screenshot / Department of Marine Resources
The Maine seafood website features a directory of Maine seafood suppliers, recipe ideas, blog posts from influential food writers, and social media.

The Maine seafood branding and promotion initiative is expected to help sell into the growing population of home-bound seafood consumers.

"Like producers across the globe, Maine's seafood industry continues to face the challenge of rapidly changing markets," Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in the release.

"But this challenge also presents an opportunity. The Gulf of Maine’s cold, clean water is home to a wide variety of premium seafood products that are easy to prepare. The Maine seafood branding and promotion initiative will help consumers learn about, find, and prepare Maine seafood in their own kitchens."

The initiative encompasses both wild and farmed species.

"With more Maine people cooking from home, we have an opportunity to support Maine’s seafood industry by promoting the premium products we produce here at home," Mills said in the release. "This initiative will support a vital sector of our states economy and connect consumers with high-quality seafood produced in the U.S. at a critical time."

The initiative will market product quality, industry stewardship and the pristine marine environment of the North Atlantic Ocean. 

The Maine seafood website features a directory of Maine seafood suppliers as well as recipe ideas for home cooks. Blog posts from influential food writers, and interactive social media accounts, are expected to drive consumer demand. 

As the initiative moves forward, assets will be developed to support the industry’s own marketing efforts. 

To view the website, click here.

Split the Seafood Bill Day

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s initiative is designed to spotlight the plight of Maine’s restaurant and fishing industries, according to a news release. 

Both the fishing industry and restaurant industry have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With roughly 65% of seafood sales traditionally going to restaurants, the industry is inextricably linked to the success of local restaurants. Reduced capacity and fewer patrons have led restaurants to drastically reduce the amount of seafood they are purchasing from fishing operations across the region.

“Local fishing communities have been hard hit by the limited capacity of restaurants around the region, and we hope that this campaign will provide a little extra support to both restaurants and the fishing industry during an especially difficult season,” Kyle Foley, sustainable seafood program manager at Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said in the release.

Courtesy / Gulf of Maine Research Institute
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s “Split the Seafood Bill Day” will cover half the cost of meals that include seafood sourced from the Gulf of Maine.

Foley works closely with chefs and fishermen to support sustainable seafood in the Gulf of Maine. After watching both industries suffer, she and the team at GMRI came up with the idea for Split the Seafood Bill Day  to help start conversations around the importance of Maine’s working waterfront and culinary culture.

"One of the best things about working in restaurants is that it’s a community endeavor,” Mike Wiley, chef owner of Eventide Oyster Co., said in the release. “When it’s going well, the rising tide lifts all boats, but when it’s not, it’s grim for all of us.

"From our staff who are concerned about their job security, to our purveyors who are worried about their ability to sell even a fraction of the product they’re used to selling, to our friends and colleagues in this industry who have already had to shutter their businesses, the pandemic has been hard on restaurants and its people.”

To participate, Mainers can order seafood either in-person or takeout from a participating restaurants, take a photo of their dish and receipt, and submit it through GMRI’s online portal for reimbursement. GMRI will reimburse up to $30 per meal for the first 200 diners who submit their photos and receipts.

Diners are encouraged to help spark conversation by posting with the hashtag #SplitTheSeafoodBill and tagging GMRI on Instagram (@gulfofmaineresearchinstitute), Facebook (@gulfofmaine) and Twitter (@GMRI). 

For more details and promotion rules, click here.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF