Louisiana Fisheries Forward (LFF) is a voluntary educational program for members of the commercial seafood community. A collaboration of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Louisiana Sea Grant College Program at LSU (Sea Grant), LFF was established with the goal of improving the economic success of Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry.
LFF provides a structured mechanism to develop and deliver, over a three-year period, relevant and timely information to the seafood industry. Content is presented via the Internet, using training videos and fact sheets, and directly to communities with hands-on workshops, training days and demonstration projects that showcase new technology and best practice methods.
“Louisiana Fisheries Forward is about establishing a method to communicate important information to our commercial seafood community,” said Robert Barham, secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “This communication will help our fishermen, dealers and processors stay abreast of global trends, new equipment, handling practices, technology and rapidly evolving regulations. This program will help our seasoned veterans as well as newcomers to the industry improve their already high-quality Louisiana seafood, and help them take their product to the next level.”
Robert Twilley, Ph.D., executive director of Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, concurs, “Louisiana is the second largest seafood-producing state in the U.S., yet the commerce and culture of our industry is at risk. We believe the time is here for a fisheries renaissance, as more and more consumers look for locally sourced and sustainably managed seafood. Louisiana is already well positioned to meet that demand. Working together, we can enhance product quality, promote innovative business practices, and reduce our environmental footprint to ensure the continued success of commercial fishing.”
Though officially unveiled today, Louisiana Fisheries Forward initiatives are already in motion. LFF enhances the current outreach programs of Sea Grant, including the two-day Fisheries Summit in Houma and Dock Days along the coast. Working with LDWF and seafood industry leaders, these training days present a wider range of diverse and challenging topics and reach a greater number of people.
Four, 30- to 45-minute training videos are in production, that address:
- How to be a commercial fisherman
- How to be a seafood dealer/processor
- Seafood business finance and management
- How to be a crab fisherman
Another six videos are planned over the next two-and-a-half years. Fact sheets, available online, will complement the videos with more detailed, time-sensitive information. Three demonstration projects, over the course of three years, will study gear efficiency and product quality; research findings will be presented at training and industry events.
Leaders at LDWF and Sea Grant are confident that the Louisiana Fisheries Forward program will help those in the seafood business thrive in a constantly changing marketplace.
“Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Louisiana Sea Grant have a successful, 45-year history of developing targeted educational programs for the seafood industry,” said Twilley. “This partnership marshals the strength of community-embedded marine extension agents with the subject matter expertise of university scientists and fisheries resource managers. Together, these experts pinpoint timely and challenging issues facing our industry and more importantly, offer options and solutions that overcome those issues.”
Barham believes that offering our seafood community the knowledge to compete in the marketplace is the key.
“To be successful, our harvesters, docks and processors need the proper knowledge to compete in the marketplace, we have an opportunity to help provide this to our industry. We have already begun a successful branding initiative of Louisiana Wild Certified Seafood; Louisiana Fisheries Forward is an extension of that effort—helping our seafood industry increase consumer confidence and receive a premium price for their catch.”