As the world’s leading supplier of surf clams, ocean quahogs, and mackerel, New Jersey’s commercial fishermen have been supplying the world’s finest seafood for over 300 years. The variety of New Jersey seafood is impressive: clams, sea scallops, blue crabs, squid, monkfish, tuna, and flounder, and many others. In 2006, over 153 million pounds of seafood valued at $143 million was landed in New Jersey’s six thriving ports. With annual retail, import and export sales in excess of $2 billion, New Jersey Seafood is important to our state’s economy.
The state also has 186 aquatic farms including 107 hard clam farms, 43 oyster farms and 15 finfish farms producing trout, koi, hybrid striped bass, sport fish species, and tilapia. Four other aquatic farms produce a variety of aquatic plants destined for ornamental ponds and remediation projects. According to USDA 2005 Census of Aquaculture, the number of acres devoted to saltwater aquaculture in New Jersey has risen from 1,402 in 1998 to 4,466 in 2005.
New Jersey is located in one of the nation’s largest, and culturally diverse, upscale consumer seafood markets. But stiff competition from other states, and from around the world, is resulting in lower prices and lost markets. To combat this trend, the Department is working closely with industry to help consumers better understand the quality and availability of local seafood.
The Department has initiated programs to brand seafood landed by New Jersey vessels or farmed in New Jersey and to develop value-added seafood products to meet the needs of today’s consumers. The Jersey Seafood branding program allows consumers to identify local seafood while also meeting new country of origin label requirements. Through promotional materials, point of sale advertising, an enhanced website, and work with strategic partners, awareness is expanding for the Jersey Seafood brand name. With 70 percent of seafood consumed in restaurants, the Jersey Seafood brand promotion is also heavily targeted at chefs and restaurateurs who are the opinion leaders in the industry.
Coastal tourism contributes $15 billion annually to our state’s economy. Restaurants play a key role in a successful tourism industry in New Jersey. Recognizing this, our program identified strategic partnerships and a comprehensive promotional plan to support the positive branding of the New Jersey Shore along with Jersey Seafood.
3. SEAFOOD STRATEGIES
3.01 Promote the “Jersey Seafood” Brand
21) STRATEGY-Continue to develop a more consistent year-round demand for Jersey Seafood products through the strategic scheduling of promotional activities. Work to educate future consumers about the importance of seafood in the diet and the production of sustainable and eco-friendly seafood. Continue to promote New Jersey landed or grown products as distinct from, and of higher value, than competing products by strengthening the Jersey Seafood brand and building on the increasing consumer interest in purchasing food locally and emphasizing Jersey Seafood as an integral part of a healthier, more active lifestyle especially for young consumers.
22) STRATEGY – In order to develop a high quality brand image for New Jersey Seafood, as well as maintain a safe and high quality supply of Jersey Seafood products, implement standards for seafood using the Jersey Seafood brand. The department will continue to support the branding of Jersey Seafood through our Jersey Seafood website as well as point of sale materials developed and distributed to Jersey Seafood retailers, community markets, restaurateurs, chefs, and directly to the general public at festivals and events.
3.02 Developing Restaurant Promotions & Branding
23) STRATEGY- The department will continue to establish promotional relationships with professional culinary organizations such as the New Jersey Restaurant Association, Professional Chefs’ Associations, and Slow Foods Organizations of New Jersey. Identify strategic partnerships to support the positive branding of the Jersey Shore and Jersey Seafood. The Jersey Seafood Suppliers Directory and promotion of the Jersey Seafood website electronic directory will help to link buyers and sellers. Institutionalize the Annual Jersey Seafood Challenge, a hot food competition for professional chefs, to promote locally harvested sustainable seafood and local restaurants.
3.03 Facilitating Retail Promotion & Sale of Jersey Seafood
24) STRATEGY- Increase consumer awareness and promotion of Jersey Seafood to emphasize sustainability and eco-friendliness through variety of channels including foodservice (chefs, restaurateurs, corporate feeding programs), media outlets, non-governmental organizations and retailers. Increased awareness and appreciation will increase demand for local seafood and drive sales. As part of the promotional campaign a wholesale market report will continue to be distributed to chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and other interested parties to provide current information about the availability of Jersey Seafood.
3.04 Supporting Direct Marketing Opportunities
25) STRATEGY-Identify new market opportunities and expand existing markets for Jersey Seafood and value-added Jersey Seafood products through greater participation at community/farm markets and other new venues such as the internet. A database of farm markets has been helpful to identify the best venues for seafood sales. Initial efforts will be to expand seafood sales in those identified markets. USDA funding will be sought to help in the expansion of farm market sales.
3.05 Development of a Branded Value-Added Seafood Products
26) STRATEGY – Continue to work with the industry to identify specific opportunities for value-added products and assist in securing funding for product development.
3.06 Export of New Jersey Seafood Products
27) STRATEGY – In partnership with USDA and Food Export USA Northeast programs for 2008, identify and promote the development of export marketing opportunities for New Jersey’s seafood products.
3.07 Provide Health Certification to Allow Interstate Transport of Live Fish
28) STRATEGY- Working closely with the Division of Animal Health, identify a revenue stream to develop testing/certification for finfish to allow the transport and sale of New Jersey live farm-raised fish to markets in other states and expand the program to meet the needs of ornamental koi hobbyists.
3.08 Support the Aquaculture Education Programs at Cumberland County College and Rutgers University
29) STRATEGY - Recognizing the exigencies of the current budget; build public-private partnerships to develop energy-efficient and economically-viable models to offset operational costs, develop strategies that allow expertise/resources to be shared among the various institutions that offer training in aquaculture, identify strategies to bring in additional expertise on an “as needed” basis, and help to identify a part-time academic development director to secure additional support.
30) STRATEGY - Continue supporting development of aquaculture at Rutgers University through the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility by advocating that the State of New Jersey annually support basic operations including salaries and supplies required for conducting aquaculture demonstrations and research that will benefit the aquatic farmers of New Jersey in the amount of $445,000;
3.09 Development of a Supportive Regulatory Path to Foster the Growth of Aquaculture
31) STRATEGY - Assist in crafting a supportive policy and a regulatory path that will allow a viable aquaculture industry to grow in New Jersey including the revision and expansion of the current leasing program, development of a general land use permit, establishment of a harmonized import program for aquatic species, and better utilization of current State resources to address finfish and shellfish health needs.
32) STRATEGY - Continue the Department’s efforts to work with the NJDEP to provide Aquaculture Development Zones in addition to the General Permit for shellfish aquaculture so that there is greater flexibility for farmers to develop shellfish aquaculture in other appropriate private lease areas. The Department shall also seek to have a regulatory fast track given to holders of riparian grants who want to develop shellfish aquaculture in these areas. Owners of riparian grants are paying taxes on these submerged lands and many were written to specifically authorize the culture and harvest of shellfish;
33) STRATEGY - Endorse and support the development of the aquaculture industry in New Jersey and the central role of the Department in bringing about a streamlined protocol for the establishment of production practices, providing government assistance to deal with the regulatory structure, and facilitating important small business and start-up investment; and
34) STRATEGY - Support the proposed federal Open Ocean Aquaculture Policy legislation.