NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 17, 2014

Fish marketing plan deserves support

The Statehouse bill aimed at better marketing the local seafood industry filed by state Senate Minority leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, would create an entirely new function for the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

Expanding government’s hand into private industry services like marketing and other operations is a step that can send chills up the spines of business owners and consumers alike.

However, this is a measure that can provide credible and needed help to a fishing industry still caught in the grips of a federal regulatory stranglehold that has already spurred a recognized “economic disaster” and essentially collapsed the once-proud local fleet, whose fishermen and business owners are selling their boats in the face of bankruptcy and foreclosures.

The bill calls for the establishment of a Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program within the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

That program’s goals would include boosting awareness of seafood’s health benefits, creating name recognition and consumer demand for Massachusetts-caught seafood products, developing educational tools and strategies to bolster consumer confidence, and to identify funding sources to increase outreach promoting the industry.

For a prominent Bay State industry in crisis, those are worthwhile goals, and deserving of full legislative support.

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