Scale Your Local Catch

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 to offer a cohort-based accelerator. 

Scale Your Local Catch (SYLC) 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. 

Scale Your Local Catch Details

Applications for the SYLC 2021-2022 cohort are now closed.

Small and mid-scale 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:

  • In business for a minimum of 2 years and selling seafood directly to consumers.
  • Identify as a small- or mid-sized seafood business.
  • Interested in scaling up gross annual revenue.
  • 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.
  • Willingness to serve as a mentor to a Local Catch Network member(s).
  • In alignment with LCN’s core values, participants must show a demonstrated commitment to stewarding water resources, fostering healthy ecosystems, using sustainable production and harvesting practices. 
  • Committed to increasing access to seafood within their communities. 
  • Committed to equitable labor practices (paying a living wage, fair treatment of workers, etc.)
  • Seek to engage or are engaging in anti-racism, food justice and/or food sovereignty activities to transform our current food system to a more equitable one.

Preference may be given to fishers and harvesters who:

  • Are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, or identify as a person of color
  • Are Women
  • Are located in a remote/rural community with a population(s) of less than 25,000
  • Produce a value-added product from a raw commodity they are fishing, raising, or harvesting

Scale Your Local Catch participants will learn alongside their peers during weekly to bi-weekly, 1.5-2 hour virtual training sessions scheduled between December 2021-April 2022. SYLC sessions are led by service providers who understand the unique needs of fishers and seafood harvesters. SYLC participants can expect to deepen their knowledge and competencies in the following areas; 

  • Marketing
  • Value Added Producer Grants
  • Business Structure/Entity Formation 
  • Concepts and Issues in Fishing Labor 
  • Necessities in Insurance and Understanding Risk
  • Taxation 
  • Accounting for Managing Liquidity and Building Wealth
  • Contracts and Partnerships
  • 5 c’s of Credit & Accessing Capital 

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 total of approximately 60 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. 

  • September 17, 2021 ​- Application period opens
  • October 15, 2021 – SYLC info session
  • November 5, 2021– ​Application deadline
  • November 22, 2021 – Applicants are notified of their application status. Accepted applicants should be prepared to complete a business health assessment before the end of November
  • Early December​, 2021 – Virtual program kickoff
  • December 2021- April 2022 Virtual training sessions held
  • April​, 2022– Conclusion of the program

SYLC programming is valued at $1,500 per participant but remains free of cost to the 2021-2022 cohort. This is made possible by grant funds from the USDA’s AMS Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). 

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

Scale Your Local Catch is modeled after Ecotrust’s Ag of the Middle accelerator. LCN has partnered with Ecotrust to develop and implement SYLC 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.

Please refer to our FAQs, watch a recording of our Scale Your Local Catch information session, or contact Jordan Richardson (jordan.richardson@maine.edu) and Tyson Rasor (trasor@ecotrust.org).