Louisiana Fishing Industry White Paper

Client: Marketumbrella.org, an organization which operates three weekly farmers markets in New Orleans as part of its mission to cultivate regional development.

Challenge: The organization sought to issue a public position on how the Louisiana fishing industry should respond to the BP oil spill as well as to ongoing challenges.

Result: Cap & Wing researched and wrote a “greenpaper” that presented the organization’s positions and generated dialogue among industry insiders and policy makers.

Greenpaper

Excerpt: Executive Summary

 Fishing for a Future in Coastal Louisiana

An Examination of Commercial Fishing Options after the 2010 BP Disaster

The Louisiana fishing industry faced troubles before the BP oil spill plunged it into crisis. Because of strong competition from international seafood purveyors, the domestic fishing industry could only command low prices for its products. It has never found solid footing in a globalized economy. Perhaps related to this problem, the industry has been slow to adopt new technologies, new business methods, and new ways of thinking. Now that the immediate crisis of the oil spill has passed, new problems have arisen for Louisiana fishermen, most notably a degraded environment and unmerited damage to the reputation of Louisiana seafood. Furthermore, Louisiana has lost market share because longstanding customers, cut off from their steady supply of Louisiana seafood, have looked elsewhere to buy.

Will the Louisiana seafood industry learn anything from the BP industrial accident? Or as it slowly recovers from its immediate problems, will it go back to doing things as they were? If so, the industry is taking a risk. Even though it has faced increasingly severe problems for a long time, these deteriorating conditions have occurred gradually enough that the situation has yet to achieve the status of crisis. One day, however, a crisis may hit hard.

This greenpaper surveys the state of Louisiana fishing industry in the immediate aftermath of the BP spill and presents ideas and possible solutions to reset the floundering industry. These ideas, which are primarily geared toward smaller, independent fishing operations include:

  • Position Louisiana seafood as a premium product
    • For perception in consumers’ minds to increase sales and command better prices
    • Establish a legal framework and certification standards
    • Leverage Louisiana seafood’s existing advantage in the marketplace
  • Modernize Louisiana fishing operations
    • Develop new ways of operating as small businesses
    • Adopt new technologies to boost seafood quality and cut operating costs
  • Grow new distribution networks for Louisiana fishing operations
    • Direct sales to retailers, restaurants and consumers
    • In addition to traditional distribution methods, utilize:
      • Farmers’ markets
      • The Internet
      • Community supported fisheries
  • Take advantage of settlements paid out by BP
  • Diversify the product mix harvested by the Louisiana seafood industry