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Seafood Industry Workforce Development is Focus of Grant

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded the Louisiana, Mississippi-Alabama, Texas and Florida Sea Grant programs $80,561 for a Food from the Sea initiative designed to support seafood industry workforce development.

The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) project will bridge the gaps between various state and other efforts to build a regional collaboration that identifies what is needed – such as training programs, workshops and other services – to attract new fishermen, aquaculturists and seafood sector professionals to careers in the Gulf-wide seafood industry. Julie Lively, Louisiana Sea Grant executive director, is the lead on the project.

“Workforce development is a significant need for all sectors of our seafood industry, especially in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana where aging of the fleet is a critical concern,” said Lively. “The average commercial fisherman in Louisiana is in his late 50s, and there aren’t people lining up to fill the jobs those fishermen will vacate over the next decade or two. The applicant pool for aquaculture and other ‘new seafood industry’ jobs is also small. Through this project, we’ll share resources and information to demonstrate there are career opportunities available where individuals can make a living harvesting and supplying seafood from the Gulf coast.”

NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program and Office of Sustainable Fisheries recently funded 11 Food from the Sea grants – totaling $900,000 – for career development programs. Projects range in size, scope and design and are as diverse as the localized needs they aim to address. A complete list of funded projects can be found on the National Sea Grant website.

These efforts will also allow Sea Grant programs, industries and communities to plan for

potential upcoming opportunities associated with the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA), should any funds be appropriated to support the recently authorized program, and other initiatives that may provide training, education, outreach and technical assistance to the U.S. seafood sector.

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant (www.laseagrant.org) has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 34 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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