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During the first-ever Alabama Gulf Seafood Summit, more than 100 attendees representing all segments of the seafood chain gathered at the Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama, to explore how best to move the Gulf seafood industry forward for businesses in the state.
From Governor Bentley’s opening remarks to the Summit’s closing commentary from Marine Resources director and Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) administrator Chris Blankenship, one common theme emerged: Increasing demand for Alabama Gulf Seafood starts with collaboration across all stakeholders in the seafood chain, and the Summit was an excellent start.
“It’s one thing to tell folks to ‘work together,’ but to really move the dial in terms of sales volume, we needed the benefit of an open forum discussion,” Blankenship says. “Individuals who represent all facets of our industry, from the point of origin to the point of sale, were able to meet and share their concerns, and they also had the opportunity to align with new business partners and tap into additional revenue streams.”
Members from the entire seafood chain, as well as state and local elected officials, gathered and engaged in important dialogue to discuss the future of the Alabama Gulf Seafood industry.
Speakers included Governor Robert Bentley; Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries commissioner John McMillan; Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources commissioner Gunter Guy; local elected officials Representative Steve McMillan, Representative David Sessions, and Representative Jim Barton; seafood buyers fromWhole Foods, Sysco, Inland Seafood, and the Alabama Grocers Association; representatives from the restaurant industry, such as Wintzell’s Oyster House and Aloha Hospitality (Baumhower’s Wings, The Compleat Angler, and Wings U); James K Lyons, Alabama State Port Authority and Alabama Gulf Coast Restoration Council; and presenters fromAlabama International Trade Center, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, Southern U.S. Trade Association, and Gulf Seafood Trace.
Participants engaged actively in panel discussions, presentations, and networkingsessions to address common barriers in the seafood sale and distribution process, as well as to examine industry topics.