New Bedford Receives Grant to Build Website Promoting Local Seafood
New Bedford's seafood has already gone worldwide. Now, it's about to hit the World Wide Web.
The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that $105,500 in grants will be distributed to seven marketing campaigns that are designed to increase awareness and demand for Massachusetts seafood products. The grants were awarded through the Division of Marine Fisheries' newly-created Seafood Marketing Pilot Grant Program.
As part of the grant, the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission will receive $13,000 to create a New Bedford Seafood website that will offer a central location for local, regional and international buyers, as well as the creation of a "Seafood Throwdown."
"Let's face it, we have the most lucrative fishing port in the country, and I will say wiht some bias, the best seafood in the country," Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford tells WBSM News. Montigny helped create the program in the state Senate. "It's great news, with one thing in mind--promoting the industry, and continuing to retain jobs as well as creat new jobs."
"Years ago, I would have said, 'Hey, let's spend this to make the biggest scallop festival in the country in New Bedford, since they use our scallops in other cities and towns for those events," Montigny said. "But in this new world, (being on the web) is the key. You can have the most, and I feel we do have the best, but if you're not constantly promoting the product online all over the world, you're falling behind your competition."
"There's a lot of crappy seafood out there because of that," he added. "There's a lot of crap coming in from different parts of the world--frozen, farm-raised. We have the freshest and best product, but you have to keep up with the people that are selling something of much less quality."
Other state lawmakers from the area agreed with Montigny.
“Here in New Bedford, the fishing industry is the lifeblood of our community,” said State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral of New Bedford. “That is why this grant, which will be used to create a one-stop shop for all information about New Bedford seafood, is so meaningful. Home to the country’s No. 1 fishing port by dollar value, New Bedford deserves our attention and we need to use every resource at our disposal to make sure that the industry is getting as much exposure as possible.”
“I want to applaud the efforts of the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Seafood Marketing Program for identifying a number of worthwhile projects,” said State Representative Bill Straus of Mattapoisett. “Support for our working waterfront is vitally important, and I believe these projects will provide a meaningful boost to our ports and the local businesses that depend on them.”
As for what the "Seafood Throwdown" might entail, Montigny wasn't giving any hints just yet.
"You'll have to wait for all the surprises," he said. "But if you think about it...downtown New Bedford has become such an incredible tourist attraction, and such a great place to sell seafood. We want to continue to market events that attract local people as well as regional people."
Montigny says he's "a bachelor that eats out in New Bedford restaurants most nights," and that he has a particular affinity for scallops and swordfish. But you won't catch him behind the grill at the Seafood Throwdown, whatever it might be.
"The only thing I know how to cook well, the only thing that I'm known for, is a great, great New Bedford whitefish, like scrod or cod," he said. "And steamed clams. That's the one thing I can do, and I have a way of doing it by poaching it on the grill. But other than that, I love to buy it (already cooked) and I love New Bedford restaurants."