SAIL Catalyst

Operating a direct seafood business requires a wide range of skills and expertise. In many cases, seafood harvesters that participate in direct marketing also need to purchase additional permits, equipment, and insurance. These factors make direct marketing significantly different than selling to a middleman. To help new and established direct marketing businesses achieve their goals, the Local Catch Network is teaming up with Ecotrust for a third year to offer a cohort-based accelerator. 

SAIL Catalyst (formerly Scale Your Local Catch) is a nation-wide, producer-centered business accelerator developed to strengthen local and regional seafood systems by addressing challenges associated with direct marketing and by building the knowledge, skills, and networks needed for direct marketing seafood businesses to scale up their operations and increase their capacity and viability for long-term resilience. 

SAIL Catalyst Details

Applications are open until May 3rd, 2024 for our first ever summer cohort.

Up to 15 businesses are typically accepted into the SAIL Catalyst program. Because of this, the application process is competitive and not all businesses that apply for SAIL Catalyst will be accepted into the program. For reference, in 2022 there was a ~29% acceptance rate. 

We will be launching another cohort that will start in January 2025, and we will begin recruitment for that in fall 2024. Check back then for more details!

Community and values-based seafood businesses in the United States who are interested in scaling up their operations, and sell a portion of their catch directly to consumers through community supported fisheries (CSF), restaurants, institutions, and/or other similar outlets are invited to apply. Access to the internet, a computer and a webcam with a microphone are required to participate. 

Successful applicants will be businesses who meet the following selection criteria:

  • Have operated a business to have tangible experience in business planning, strategy, finance, and direct marketing.
  • Identify as a small- or mid-sized seafood business.
  • Interested in growing in a way that meets the goals of the venture (i.e. community impact, efficiency, revenue)
  • In alignment with LCN’s core values, participants must show a demonstrated commitment to stewarding environmental resources, fostering healthy ecosystems, using sustainable production and harvesting practices. 
  • Seek to engage or are engaging in anti-racism, food/environmental justice, and/or food sovereignty activities to transform our current food system to a more equitable one.
  • Committed to increasing access of seafood within communities. 
  • Committed to equitable labor practices (paying a living wage, fair hiring process and treatment of workers, ensuring safety of crew, etc.).
  • Committed to community-building via a willingness to serve as a mentor to a Local Catch Network member as well as other collaborative efforts that emerge.
  • Owner/founder/manager(s) available and committed to actively participate in accelerator activities, including attending weekly virtual trainings, webinars, doing offline work as assigned, responding to program-related communications, filling out evaluations, etc.

Preference will be given to fishers and harvesters who:

SAIL Catalyst participants will learn alongside their peers during weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays  from 2:00-3:30 pm ET, 1.5 hour-long virtual training sessions scheduled between June 2024-September 2024. 

Catalyst sessions are led by service providers who understand the unique needs of fishers and seafood harvesters. Catalyst participants can expect to deepen their knowledge and competencies in the following areas:

  • Business Structure/Entity Formation 
  • Contracts and Partnerships
  • Accounting Framework for Managing Liquidity and Building Wealth
  • Marketing
  • Introduction to Taxation 
  • Access to Capital
  • Labor & Employment for your Fishing Business
  • Necessities in Insurance and Understanding Risk
  • Cashflow

Review the program syllabus for full session descriptions. 

Participants must be able to attend a majority of the training sessions and be willing to complete “homework” between sessions. To attend trainings and complete assignments, participants can expect to commit a total of approximately 50 hours to the program. A full agenda with training dates will be distributed upon acceptance into the program. 

As part of our efforts to assess the effectiveness of the program, participants are required to complete a series of evaluations throughout the duration of the program and beyond. 

  • February 15th, 2024 – Application period opens
  • March 26th – SAIL Catalyst info session. Register here 
  • May 3rd – Application period closes
  • May 18th – Applicants are notified of their application status. Accepted applicants should be prepared to complete a business health assessment before the end of May
  • Mid June – Virtual program kickoff
  • June 2024 – September 2024 Virtual training sessions held
  • August 22-25, 2024 – In-person Convening (costs covered for cohort)
  • September 21, 2024 – Conclusion of the program

SAIL Catalyst programming is valued at $4,000 but remains free of cost to participants. This is made possible by grant funds from the Builder’s Initiative. 

If you are interested in financially supporting future cohorts of Catalyst participants you can donate to the Local Catch Network fund. If you would like to volunteer or provide professional services please contact us.AIL

SAIL Catalyst is modeled after Ecotrust’s Ag of the Middle accelerator. LCN has partnered with Ecotrust to develop and implement Catalyst programming. Consultants and community organizations who are familiar with the needs of small-to-mid scale fishing businesses that participate in direct marketing are contracted to facilitate key trainings.

Refer to our FAQ’s document , watch our recorded information sessions, or contact Local Catch ( and Tyson Rasor (

Fifteen seafood businesses participated in the 2022-2023 SYLC program. Get to know the cohort

Twelve seafood businesses completed the inaugural SYLC program. Get to know the SYLC 2021-2022 cohort