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New Hampshire Sea Grant research identifies opportunities to market "underloved" seafood species

Posted: August 18, 2014

A study conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire indicates that consumers “overwhelmingly” prefer local seafood over imported seafood and are willing to pay more and drive further to attain it. Northeast Regional Center TAC member Charlie French, who also is a UNH Cooperative Extension associate professor of community development, and Kelly Cullen, associate professor of natural resources and the environment, recently presented the preliminary results of their N.H. Sea Grant-funded study to a small group of local fishermen, seafood retailers, local food organizations and chefs.

Their research indicates that despite a strong preference for local seafood in the Granite State, there is some consumer hesitation over trying and purchasing lesser-known species, referred to as "underloved" species that are plentiful in local waters but not common in cuisine. Species such as redfish, dogfish, hake and pollock currently make up the vast majority of the catch in gill nets and trawls in N.H. waters.

"Ten years ago, those were the species that got in the way of the rest of the more economically valuable fish like cod and haddock," French said. "Now those underloved species are mostly what they are catching, so we have to absolutely figure out how to market and promote them."

"If you can’t tackle that problem, N.H.’s small-fleet fishing industry is not going to be here much longer," he added. Indeed, the state’s groundfishing fleet has declined from about 40 fishermen three years ago to a mere seven in 2013.

Read the full University of New Hampshire press release here.