UNE celebrate successful project to market dogfish to American consumers

News Release

University of New England (UNE)

13. July 2017

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UNE’s Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., and Adam St. Gelais of UNE’s Center for Excellence in the Marine Sciences led the efforts with the Fishermen’s Alliance’s Nancy Civetta and GMRI’s Jen Levin.

The project’s overall goal was to leverage the very large dogfish population now existing in the Atlantic Ocean in order to expand the regional fishing economy by building an historic collaboration between CCFA, GMRI and UNE. The project tested fish for the levels of healthy compounds and contaminants, then assessed the health benefits and risks of consuming dogfish. It used that information to develop a wide range of dogfish information and new products, and then sold them to American consumers.

The UNE scientists published two science papers on mercury and PCBs in Marine Pollution Bulletin and are working on another on the levels of omega 3’s and selenium. They worked with the CCFA to interpret results for regulators and the public. Results showed dogfish is a healthy, lean, low-fat source of protein, loaded with omega 3’s, is high in selenium and vitamins B6 and B12. The fish works well for a variety of new recipes and preparations. UNE scientists worked with the CCFA to distribute widely this message to the public:

 “Spiny dogfish sourced from New England are a great healthy food choice. Not only is the fish’s mercury level below the most conservative FDA and EPA limits, but it also has lots of the heart-healthy fatty acids that are recommended by the American Heart Association. Even young children and pregnant or nursing women can enjoy dogfish and get the nutritional benefits of this heart-healthy fish, but they should limit meals to a 4 oz. portion once a week. When you next buy seafood, insist on New England harvested dogfish. Its nutritional value will make a difference to your health.”

GMRI and CCFA held many product events from hyper local to global, developed new products and created consumer guidelines. The CCFA estimated their earned media reached the attention of more than 4 million people. Industry partners reported increased sales volumes and prices. One industry partner, “Sea to Table,” reported that the monthly sales volume for dogfish grew by 36% over the last year. Results from the project helped revise export regulations into the European Union and trade missions went to Asia. During the project, the domestic catch quota was increased for fishermen, domestic consumption of spiny dogfish fillets and exports increased and increased fishing revenues and jobs were reported in the fishery from North Carolina to Maine.

As a result of this project, the Marine Stewardship Council certified the dogfish fishery sustainable. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service has raised the per-boat daily catch limit from 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. The total U.S. permitted catch is 50 million pounds. A further expansion of the dogfish market would generate an estimated $12 million in economic benefit to fishermen and an additional $26 million in increased economic activity throughout the supply chain. There are millions of pounds available locally in New England; fishermen are able and willing to catch it, and many people now understand how tasty it is.

The group is now looking for ways to sustain the outstanding progress made in expanding the domestic and export markets for dogfish as the grant ends. The combined efforts of fishermen, scientists, marketing experts and salesmen have resulted in a greater consumer awareness of dogfish as abundant, sustainable and delicious new seafood to try in an era of rapidly changing fisheries.

Source: UNE


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