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Local Seafood: Rethinking the Direct Marketing Paradigm

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Stoll, Joshua S.; Dubik, Bradford A.; Campbell, Lisa M.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 20
Date: 2015
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9927
Sector: Fisheries
Region: North America
Subject(s): resilience
social capital
Abstract: "Faced with strict regulations, rising operational costs, depleted stocks, and competition from less expensive foreign imports, many fishers are pursuing new ways to market and sell their catch. Direct marketing arrangements can increase the ex-vessel value of seafood and profitability of operations for fishers by circumventing dominant wholesale chains of custody and capturing the premium that customers are willing to pay for local seafood. Our analysis goes beyond a paradigm that understands direct marketing arrangements as solely economic tools to consider how these emerging business configurations create a set of conditions that can result in increased bonding and bridging capital among fishers by incentivizing cooperation, communication, and information production and organization. To build our case, we report on the economic value being generated for fishers in a cooperatively owned and operated direct marketing arrangement in eastern North Carolina. Over the course of 2 years, fishers participating in the Walking Fish community-supported fishery received 33% more revenue for their catch compared to the average monthly ex-vessel price of finfish and shellfish landed in the surrounding region, and an additional 14% to 18% more per dollar by way of year-end profit sharing. We argue that these economic benefits create an incentive to participate, resulting in cooperation among fishers and increased communication skills that foster bonding and bridging capital that put fishers in a position to identify and respond to challenges that threaten the social-ecological resilience of the systems within which they operate. We suggest that 'institutional starters' like these can play a critical role in increasing the resilience of social-ecological systems, including fisheries."

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