Fisherman explores foreign markets
Fisherman Doug Feeney, left, shakes hands with Tony, right, of Fastnet Fish LTD in the United Kingdom, a big purchaser of dogfish for the country's famous fish 'n chips.
In April, dogfish fisherman Doug Feeney attended the Seafood Global Expo in Brussels where he discovered that European fish buyers are most concerned with their own nations’ perception about sharks.
Working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), whose certification of sustainability gives the spiny dogfish fishery a key advantage, Feeney met with seafood buyers from Germany to address these concerns. Germans have long enjoyed the belly flaps of dogfish, but the ecologically-conscious consumers are also aware of the plight of larger, endangered shark species.
Feeney feels that fishermen, along with representatives of the MSC, can help mitigate these worries by illustrating the abundance and health of our well-managed United States dogfish fishery.
Feeney believes the message about dogfish is making a difference. Walking the floor of the Expo, handing out dogfish marketing materials and chatting about the fishery on Cape Cod, he got great responses.
“There is a lot more buzz around dogfish, new companies coming in, new processors in the field,” reports Feeney. “This puts a better demand on the product, which eventually means a better price to the boat.”
Feeney met with Chinese seafood buyers and spoke at length with the MSC representative from England about the marketing push for dogfish at fish and chip shops in Britain. He also had sit downs with several New England-based processors, who were exhibiting at the show. Sea Trade and Eastern Fisheries were both highlighting dogfish with cooking demonstrations and value-added dogfish products like “Cape Shark Bites.”
Doug’s mantra is: “When a fisherman sells the story it becomes more personal.” He came to the Fishermen’s Alliance Board of Directors in January requesting financial support for continuing his quest to find new buyers for Cape Cod-landed dogfish.
After his success in building relationships with Chinese buyers in China last fall, the board voted in favor of sending him out into the world again to gather new leads and explore market issues affecting demand for this sustainable seafood product. Bringing in new buyers could have a big impact on our local fishing businesses and economy.