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

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, University of Guelph, University of New Hampshire, Haverford College
Contact: Joshua Stoll (

Local food systems response to COVID-19

This project has focused on cross sector learning and collaboration across Local and Regional Food Systems (LRFS) sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Local Catch Network was one of sixteen food system networks involved in the work.

Project collaborators: US Department of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, Colorado State University, Penn State, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development and sixteen food system networks (including the Local Catch Network)

Characterization of small-scale fisheries

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 (

Co-creating accountability metrics for community supported fisheries

Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation by stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust and knowledge exchange. PGS have existed in the agricultural sector as an alternative to top-down organic certifications for more than forty years, but have limited application in the seafood sector. This research explores the application of PGS to community supported fisheries (CSFs).

Contact: Paloma Henriques (; Joshua Stoll (

Understanding values associated with alternative seafood networks

Within the last decade there has been an increase of alternative seafood networks (ASNs) like community supported fisheries (CSFs) across North America. Given this proliferation of ASNs, there is a critical need to understand the goals and challenges of these models and their wider implications on the global seafood industry and the resilience of seafood supply chains. This explores the values and motivations of individuals who choose to pursue alternative seafood networks, and how models like CSFs have evolved over time, along with some of their guiding principles such as locality and sustainability. Understanding the motivations, values, and challenges of those involved in alternative seafood networks will provide the groundwork for continuing to understand the values associated with global fish capture and seafood consumption. This work will contribute to existing research on global fisheries management and alternative seafood networks, while highlighting opportunities for alternative seafood networks to build resilience in seafood supply chains.

Contact: Emily De Sousa (; Philip Loring (

Comparative Analysis of State Legal Frameworks Governing Direct Seafood Sales

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: Joshua Stoll (; Stephanie Otts (

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 (

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

National Sea Grant Law Center


Contact: Joshua Stoll (