Help for Seafood Marketing

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle have sponsored legislation that would set up a seafood marketing task force to promote the marketing and sustainability of seafood landed in New York State waters.

The legislation, passed last month, requires Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature to become law. Mr. Thiele said last week that he hoped that would happen before summer’s end.

Along with promoting the marketing and sustainability of New York seafood, the task force would provide the governor and Legislature with a report of its progress and findings, addressing research, marketing, expansion, and funding opportunities. Its intent is to stimulate the economy and create jobs for coastal communities.

In addition, the task force is intended to help New York’s commercial fishermen compete with those of other coastal states; Massachusetts and Rhode Island have established similar entities.

A request from the Cornell Cooperative Extension initiated the legislation, Mr. Thiele said. “I see all this married together into one effort to promote the product and create demand for product, particularly locally,” he said. “Increasing demand for product is good for commercial fishermen. Another part of it is, we compete with these other states.”

“There’s been regional interest on a state-by-state basis to promote local seafood,” said John Scotti, a marine educator at the extension who proposed legislation creating a task force to Mr. Thiele. “I think it’s an outgrowth of the local-food movement. Sometimes there’s an opportune time for an idea. Right now, we see that consumer demand is all about ‘local.’ ”

Along with competition from neighboring states, New York’s commercial fishing industry competes with imported seafood, which constitutes more than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States, according to an estimate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“There are some issues relative to seafood imports,” Mr. Scotti said. “One has to do with depressing local product. But it’s also very often mislabeled and unregulated.”