Call to Fishermen and Farmers: We Need Your Voices at Industry Trade Shows and Events

By Bri Dwyer and Emily De Sousa.

The seafood industry’s conference, tradeshow, and event season is in full swing, with SENA in Boston, SEG in Barcelona in the rearview mirror, and PME in Seattle set for November. The global representation of seafood companies is staggering when you walk the floor of these shows, but there’s one group of attendees that seems to be missing: fishermen and water farmers.

The absence of fishermen and seafood farmers at major industry events and tradeshows underscores a significant gap in communication and understanding within the seafood industry. While these events have traditionally catered towards sales activities, they also serve as vital platforms for knowledge sharing, community building, and networking. The challenges that plague the seafood industry are being discussed at length and at every booth, but the voices and perspectives of those intimately affected by these challenges, the people who work directly on the water, are few and far between. Why is this?

For many fishermen and seafood farmers, their occupation isn’t merely a job—it’s a deeply ingrained lifestyle that consumes their thoughts and energies around the clock. The demands of their work extend far beyond traditional office hours, so attending industry events can seem like a luxury or an inconvenience, especially when it means being away from their boats and families. Additionally, the costs associated with conference registration, travel expenses, and accommodation might place a considerable strain on already tight budgets, particularly for small-scale or independent fishermen and farmers. While these reasons for the lack of attendance are understandable, it comes at a cost.

The absence of our frontline workers at industry gatherings perpetuates a disconnect between those who are intimately familiar with the realities of harvesting and cultivating seafood and the broader industry stakeholders who may be more focused on sales, marketing, and distribution.