We are actively involved in a number of research projects related to small-scale fisheries, seafood supply chains, and local and regional seafood systems.

Current Research Projects

Seafood independence is within reach: a multi-scale assessment of seafood self-reliance in the United States

As a vital source of nutrition, cultural identity, and economic activity, seafood has become one of the most globally traded commodities worldwide. However, increased concerns about food security, coupled with the disruptive effects of climate change, contagious diseases, and geopolitical conflict, are bringing acute attention to the need for food system transformation at multiple scales. Here, we investigate the United States’ potential to achieve seafood “independence” and maximize health benefits to the nation by integrating production, utilization, yield, and consumption data across seven regions of the United States and nationally over 50 years (1970–2021). Although the United States is the second largest importer of seafood worldwide, findings from this study show that self-reliance at the national level is achievable, though the ability of different subregions to meet demand is variable. Achieving greater seafood independence would require shifts in consumer behavior, investments in infrastructure, and continual adaptation in the face of climate change

Contact: Tolulope Samuel Oyikeke ( or Joshua Stoll (

Benchmark study and survey on direct seafood sales

The American Seafood Harvesters Marketing Practices Survey aims to characterize direct seafood marketing practices for domestic wild-caught fisheries in the United States. Currently, there is a significant gap in national-level data available on the country’s domestic seafood system. This includes a lack of data about the number of wild-caught fishing businesses in the U.S., their total value of sales and the market channels being used– which limits the ability to evaluate public and private investments in the sector, prevents U.S. fishers from identifying emerging market trends and opportunities and hinders a complete understanding of the impacts of fishing regulations.

In order to address the existing data gap and strengthen local and regional food systems, NOAA Fisheries, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services, and the University of Maine are partnering to design, test, and pilot a national survey to evaluate direct marketing practices in the seafood sector. 

Project collaborators: University of Maine, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Contact: Sahir Advani ( or Joshua Stoll (

Comparative analysis of state legal frameworks governing direct marketing

The legal framework governing direct sales of seafood products is complex and can vary by state and even by city or county. Additionally, the laws may vary depending on the venue for direct sales (e.g., farmers’ markets, online, restaurants) and means of sale (e.g., wholesale, retail stores, mail order). This research focuses on identifying and analyzing the respective regulatory approaches of the 31 coastal states to direct seafood sales.

Project collaborators: National Sea Grant Law Center, University of Maine

Contact: Stephanie Otts (

Characterization of small-scale fisheries in the United States

Small-scale fisheries make important socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental contributions to society, yet are often poorly characterized. In the United States, there is no formal definition of the term ‘small-scale’ thereby making it challenging to evaluate the sector, discern challenges or threats, and develop targeted policies that take into account their unique attributes. We are beginning to address this gap by: (1) developing definitions of small-scale fisheries for the United States; (2) providing estimates on the biological and economic scale of the sector; and (3) summarizing key drivers of change.

Project collaborators: University of Maine

Contact: Joshua Stoll (

Alternative seafood networks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Seafood trade faltered during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, alternative seafood networks (ASNs), which deliver seafood locally and direct-to-consumers, surged in the United States and Canada. This research focuses on the role that local marketing arrangements play in fostering resilience.

Project collaborators: University of Maine

Contact: Joshua Stoll (

To explore collaborative research opportunities, please contact:
Joshua Stoll, PhD at

National Sea Grant Law Center


Contact: Joshua Stoll (