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Boston Show blog: Recap on three hectic days here

Three chaotic days and nights with thousands of potential customers, hundreds of booths, and dozens of new product innovations. IntraFish journalists Drew Cherry, John Fiorillo, Avani Nadkarni and Kim Tran are here to help you navigate.

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Wednesday, March 9, 1:05 pm EST

Concerns over low Mekong River water levels

Vietnamese pangasius company Vinh Hoan stressed the importance of aquaculture as "wild fisheries are being depleted around the world."

"All other proteins are farmed," said Sang Phan, president of Vinh Hoan USA, mentioning that in coming years, aquaculture will surpass marine fisheries in terms of where seafood consumption is sourced from.

Vinh Hoan is a powerhouse in pangasius farming and we want to bring that expertise to tilapia and barramundi. There's a learning curve and we need to adjust our farming techniques."

He said barramundi's main market is Australia while "tilapia demand in the US is growing. There's always demand for non-Chinese tilapia in the United States because it's a more sustainable way of farming."

Tilapia is popular in the retail channels while pangasius primarily goes into foodservice, but Vinh Hoan hopes to change this because "there's a lot of room to grow in the retail secor. Packers, retailers, suppliers need to work to promote pangasius in retail."

However, supply and price may be affected in the near future, Phan said, because the Mekong River's water level is at a very low level, which may lead to high mortality rates.

"We hope it will be over soon."

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 11:59 am EST

Norwegian snow crab holds high potential

Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Fisher King Seafoods has seen a lot of traffic during the expo.

"It's a great chance to see our regular customers and we made many new contacts," said President Mark Powell.

"One of the new products we are promoting is the Norwegian snow crab. Two years ago, we brought in 10 containers, last year 50 containers and this year we expect to bring in 100."

He said the Norwegian crab is a "young, experimental fishery. There's no quota as they're still researching and learning about the species."

The Norwegian crab is found in the Barents Sea and is the same species as the Alaskan snow crab.

"The resource has exploded. There's a lot coming out of there. The biomass trajectory is strong and increasing each year," said Powell, adding that he estimates populations could rival those of the Alaskan snow crab fishery in ten years.

Currently Fisher King is the largest importer of Norwegian crab in the United States.

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 11:33 am EST

Storm Seafood 'gauging interest' for new product

Norwegian salmon importer Storm Seafood is looking for a spot in the US market for its salmon portions and are "gaging interest" at the Boston expo, said Peter Gati, president of the US East Coast division.

"We already supply this product in retail Scandanavia and Germany. We plan to fly in Norwegian salmon and produce it in the US for this market."

The salmon portions are about 100 grams each and come in 250 or 500 gram aluminum trays. The product is processed in a modified atmosphere to prolong shelf life. Storm Seafood also plans to offer cod and halibut fillets in the same oven-safe aluminum tins.

"The feedback has been good but we still have a ways to go," he said, referring to packaging and logistics.

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 10:45 am EST

Samuels & Son goes exotic

Pittsburgh-based seafood foodservice distributor Samuels & Son Seafood expanded its offerings recently.

In addition to its varied seafood imports, the company started bringing in new exotic fish for its high-end customers a few months ago, such as fish from Senegal and wild wolf fish from Iceland.

"It's selling very well with our customers and we bring in [these new exotic species] every week," said Bill Bradford, marketing coordinator. "The chefs out there want something new and exciting. These products give us a unique niche in the industry."

From Les Grands Viviers in Senegal, the company offers wild options such as parrot fish, dorade, strawberry sea bass and white grouper.

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 10:06 am EST

US squid supply down, Indian steps in as alternative

Rhode Island-based seafood supplier The Town Dock promoted refreshed Indian squid for the first time at a Boston expo.

"We normally promote our US squid, but there's a shortage so this is the first time we are featuring a different country," said Andrew Marchall, national accounts manager.

The refreshed Indian squid comes in 10-pound containers of rings, tenticles or tubes.

"It's a great foodservice item, available all year and it's price stable. It takes the knife out of the chef's hand. It's in production now."

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 9:25 am EST

Shrimp prices start to adjust

Indonesian company PT. Central Proteina Prima hopes 2016 will be a better year for the shrimp industry.

"EMS in countries such as Thailand, China and Vietnam disrupted supply quite a bit and made prices high in 2013, 2014," said Arianto Yohan, CP Prima assistant VP and head of production & sales.

"During those years, people stopped promoting shrimp in foodservice and retail and demand slowed. People changed to other proteins."

He said prices adjusted in Q2 and Q3 last year and came down a bit.

"We hope to see demand pick up and hope 2016 will be better."

He added, that during the last few years, the key players in the industry changed.

Thailand was the No. 1 shrimp exporter to the US in 2011 and has fallen to the No. 4 spot as of last year while India has jumped up and gained US market share.

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 8:59 am EST

Trangs readies new shrimp VAP for Costco

Trangs, a Vietnamese shrimp manufacturer, supplier, importer and exporter, has a new value added product about to hit Costco shelves.

"The tempura shrimp will be in Costco in the Northwest. It's in Seattle in a warehouse now ready to go into stores," said Vi Nguyen, CEO of Trangs Group USA Inc.

The company sells breaded, battered and marinated shrimp into the retail primarily, "but we're just starting to get into foodservice."

Trang's main markets are Europe, Australia and the United States. We are verticall integrated and own our own shrimp farms and processing facilities.

Another new value-added product they featured in Boston was a seafood sticky rice.

--Kim Tran

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Wednesday, March 9, 8:42 am EST

Bakkafrost seeks retailer for new line

Faroese company Bakkafrost is pushing a new frozen retail product line in the US market to add to the products the company already sells in US retailers.

"It's completely new and we're just starting to push them out. We've gotten good feedback," said Marketing Manager Poul Andrias Jacobsen. The company is talking with possible retailers to carry the line in stores.

This product line features premium Faroese salmon portions, which are skinless and boneless.

The smaller boxed package has two 4.41-ounce portions and the larger bag has ten 5-6 ounce portions.

The line is already in the European retail market and will replace the existing line in stores with the newer packaging next month, he said.

--Kim Tran

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Tuesday, March 8, 2:35 pm EST

Australis to double production

US-based Australis Barramundi plans to double production in 2016, CEO Josh Goldman told IntraFish.

They are also working to produce larger fish at the Massachusetts land-based facility, he said, "for thicker fillets."

Hear the plans in Josh Goldman's own words, plus other big-time execs talking about their companies, here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Tuesday, March 8, 1:35 pm EST

Earth Island Institute is ready to fight

If and when the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifies the Mexican yellowfin tuna fishery, Earth Island Institute's Mark Berman said his group is ready to fight.

Berman told IntraFish that the fishery is "killing dolphins" and certifying it "is going to corrupt the MSC logo," he said.

The big American tuna giants, such as Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and TriMarine said "they are not touching that fish," he said.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Tuesday, March 8, 1:15pm EST

Scotland is more than just salmon

When most people think of Scottish seafood, they think of salmon. But Scottish celebrity chef Mark Greenaway, owner of Restaurant Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh, said there's an "abundance" of species there.

At the Scotland booth, he's sampling nine different species of fish and shellfish for tasters.

"We do other things like monkfish, mackerel, trout and even shellfish such as Scottish langoustines," said Clare MacDougall of Seafood Scotland.

To see a video of Chef Greenaway talking about Scottish seafood, and many other videos from the show, click here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Tuesday, March 8, 1 pm EST

Darik's does barramundi

US-based Darik Enterprises is known for shrimp, but the company is now dipping into Red Sea barramundi, president Jim Flynn told IntraFish.

The fish is farmed by National Aquaculture in the deep waters of the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia, he said, and the farm is the first barramundi operation to be BAP four star certified.

Darik hopes to do 100-200 metric tons for 2016.

"Somebody [barramudi] will be like a tilapia," Flynn said. "But for now, it's new and different."

For a video of Jim Flynn talking about the barramundi, and other videos from the show, click here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Tuesday, March 8, 11:59 am EST

Wegmans picks up Spence's new salmon

Boston area-based US smoker Spence & Co. debuted a new Norwegian organic certified salmon, which is in retail now and has been "very well received," said Tom Higgins, sales director.

He added there was consumer demand for a product that "was a combination of our quality and that was organic."

The 4-ounce cold-smoked product just launched and is carried in one retailer, Wegmans, who "has embraced the new item." The product features hand-applied kosher salt and is smoked on oak wood.

"Spence & Co. has received good response and inquiries to expand the category. This is going to be a strong year for smoked salmon," Higgins told IntraFish.

--Kim Tran

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Tuesday, March 8, 11:45 am EST

Organic mussels find opening in US

Irish organic mussels are finding interest in the United States. 

"We just started to export our organic mussels into US retail," said Karen Devereux, the Bord Bia Irish Food Board sector manager for fish and seafood. "We're looking for increased opportunities for shellfish here at the expo."

Fionnuala Dore of Kush Shellfish said they are readying their new organic rope mussels for the US market, which will be sold in 1-pound packages. The mussels are cooked and ready to be heated and served. Kush also offers a bottled organic mussel soup.

Another company, Connemara Seafoods launched a new product in Weiss supermarkets last September.

"Our Irish organic mussels are sold in 1-pound boxes and there's been a lot of interest," said Ann-Marie Mulloy, business development manager for Connemara.

She added just the classic version of that product is in retail stores but after Boston, three new flavored versions of the boxed Irish mussels will join it on shelves: Irish mussels in creamy Irish stout, Irish mussels in Irish cream liqueur and Irish mussels in Irish whiskey & cream.

--Kim Tran

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Tuesday, March 8, 9:46 am EST

Russian pollock finding new consumers at home

The Russian pollock sector is seeing more and more domestic demand, with the supply of blocks jumping up by 53 percent over last year.

"It's a very good signal for us," Alexey Buglak, executive director of the Russian Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) said.

The demand is coming at a good time -- Russian H&G pollock prices are low, and the sector in general is looking for new markets. Buglak said the PCA is noting the work being done on the US pollock side in terms of promotion, and said the next project for PCA is promoting Russian pollock. "It's obvious this should be done," he said, adding that discussions are underway with members about how to best do this.

'A' season fishing has been good, Buglak said, but icy conditions in the Sea of Okhotsk has posed some challenges, and the season may wind up a bit earlier than usual.

On the market side, one Russian supplier said yesterday Chinese buyers are bidding up H&G pollock prices by over 10 percent from the some $1,050 per metric ton price given concerns over the shorter season and firmer demand.

Still, "everybody knows the situation in China is not stable," Buglak said, noting that Pacific Andes still remains a question mark, as does Pickenpack.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, March 8, 7:47 am EST

Scallop market looking good on the buy-side

Listen up buyers: there are bargains to be had in the scallops sector.

While typically prices stay high following the holiday season before tapering off, this year they've started moving lower earlier.

Globally, Peru and Japan are short, so it would stand to reason prices would be firmer than they are.

"It's the absolute best time of the year, and it's the absolute best possible price," Eastern Fisheries Executive Vice President Joseph Furtado said. "We may realize that pricing today may be cheaper than two months from now."

That's not a bad thing for Eastern. With a network of supply from around the globe, it's able to keep product flowing into major buyers.

"Something has happened in the dynamics in America that's changed," Furtado said. "There's a lot less big active players aggressively buying product."

With a potentially huge supply of scallops from the US in 2017, Eastern and the rest of the industry are prepping for the future.

Eastern has the advantage of vertical integration, Furtado noted, which will help them ride out the whims of the market. He cautioned that buyers expecting cheap scallops need to bear in mind that supplies out of China, Peru and Japan are just as important as what happens in the States, and can balance out the bumper crop.

Still, the industry is looking for ways to increase the value of the products regardless of whether the market is up or down.

"The challenge is our lack of branding," Furtado said. Eastern has launched bagged products it seems promise for, but the fight against private label products is always a tough one. "But there's value to be had there."

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, March 8, 7:27 am EST

Carolina pushes ahead with aquaculture

Carolina seafood producers have the benefit of strong support from their state government, and that's helping its fledgling sector develop demand for its products both locally and across the country.

"It's a good problem to have," said John Aydlett, seafood marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "There's never enough product to meet the need out there."

From catfish to trout to tilapia, the industry has begun to slowly create a base for aquaculture growth that looks primed to develop even further over time.

While Carolina Classics Catfish is the best-known in the sector, other smaller companies are growing rapidly.

"They're especially having luck with big city areas in Carolina," Aydlett said. "The local market is really embracing local producers."

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, March 8, 7:19 am EST

Vietnam's next big venture

We've all heard of VASEP. But get ready to hear about a new acronym out of Vietnam: VSA.

The Vietnamese Seafarming Association is a brand-new group representing the ocean aquaculture sector in the country.

Some 30 companies -- including some Western groups including Marine Farms and Australis -- are banding together to help promote aquaculture production off Vietnam's coast, including species like pompano, and products such as seaweed.

The group has a secret weapon: Nguyen Huu Dzung, the former VP of VASEP, is leading the charge.

"Instead of helping fishermen build vessels, we're trying to convince the government that long-term it makes much more sense to help them establish aquaculture operations," Dzung said.

--Drew Cherry

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Monday, March 7, 4:15pm EST

'So you think you know Stavis? Think again'

That's the "unofficial motto" of Stavis Seafoods this year, CEO Rich Stavis told IntraFish at the company's booth.

A lot of people have known about Stavis for years, he said, and haven't realized how the company has grown.

Check out a video of Rich Stavis talking about the new and improved Stavis here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 4pm EST

'It was a tough year'

It's no secret that Honduras is going through a slump -- "tough" was the most-used word from Esteban Laitano of shrimp producer Groupo Literol, when he stopped by the IntraFish booth.

"It was a tough year," he said. "Honduras is going through a tough time, it's going to be a tough year."

He thinks the company, which exports to the EU, Asia and the US, will be ok, even after they lost 30 to 35 percent of their production last year.

Why? Mainly thanks to a hefty investment in a RAS facility, the first in Honduras, set to open in a couple of weeks.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 3:45 pm EST

Saucy goes Publix

The Saucy Fish Co is going into 800 Publix -- and it's the largest US deal ever, the company's Irene Moon and Paul Macis told IntraFish.

The brand is still in about 150 Whole Foods locations throughout the US, as well as many supermarkets across the European Union.

Check out a video of Paul Macis talking about the deal here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 3:25 pm EST

Getting in on the trends

Bumble Bee is "getting in on the snacking trend," VP of Sales Dan Gerlach told IntraFish.

The packaging has changed -- the previously named "ready to eat" tuna and crackers combo is now titled "Snack on the Run" and the company is playing with new, exciting flavors, too.

Check out the video here.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 2:24 pm EST

Ocean Wise starts small-scale assessments

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch assesses larger fisheries, but for smaller ones are often overlooked.

Canadian-based NGO Ocean Wise recently "started assessing smaller fisheries who are not on Seafood Watch's radar," said Ocean Wise Coordinator Claire Li.

Last year, the organization conducted sustainability assessments of the giant Pacific octopus fishery and gooseneck barnacle fishery, which "are important to local markets and should be assessed as well."

This year, they assessed the Nova Scotia-based Chedabucto Bay northern shrimp fishery and "just released the recommendation (which was green) for that fishery last week," said Li.

--Kim Tran

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Monday, March 7, 2:20 pm EST

French Creek preps for huge launch

Canadian company French Creek Seafood debuted a new product line called Simply West Coast with about 20 items. The value-added product line is produced in British Columbia and was tested in the Canadian market.

"We are ready for a consolidated launch in the United States and are officially launching at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, which is this week," said Zac Semeniuk of Simply West Coast.

"We have a few retailers lined up already."

The new featured product in this lineup include wild Pacific pollock and salmon portions in micrawaveable steam pouches that self ventilate. These portions are marinaded in several flavors: lemon caper butter sauce, mango chili lime sauce and Sicilian tomato sauce.

--Kim Tran

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Monday, March 7, 2:15 pm EST

Bantry Bay testing the waters

US-based Bantry Bay is testing the waters for its new line of value-added seafood products.

The company has mock up versions of the lineup, which includes flavor marinated clams, hake, swordfish, tuna, seafood mix skin packs for fajitas or paired with pasta or rice.

"We sell more marinated frozen mussels in US retail than any other company," said Bob Mutchler, western regional sales manager for Bantry Bay. "We have about 65 percent of that market."

The company also featured its newest product, 1-pound box of mussels in a creamy stout sauce and a 9-ounce box of mussel meat in a Thai curry sauce.

The products are currently in the Maryland division of Whole Foods and Albertsons-Safeway.

--Kim Tran

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Monday, March 7, 2:10 pm EST

A good year for Ecuador

Though Ecuador has had a strong run of Asian demand for its products since 2012, its growth in production has meant it's been able to serve its broad base of customers around the globe, according to Jose Camposano, president of the National Chamber of Aquaculture.

Asia now accounts for 50 percent of the total imports, but country is still pushing similar percentages into its traditional markets of the US and Europe.

In 2015, Ecuador exported 720 million pounds of shrimp, a rise of around 15 percent over the year prior. In terms of value, however, the return was around 12 percent less at around $300 million (as an aside -- 10 years ago Ecuador exported 212 million pounds).

This year, the production picture is a little fuzzy, Camposano said.

While 45 days ago he would have predicted an increase of around 9 percent on the year on the conservative side, two weeks ago heavy rains took their toll on farmers and have brought projections down to around 2-3 percent growth for the year.

--Drew Cherry

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Monday, March 7, 2:10 pm EST

Alaska coop pushes new incentive plan

The Alaska Seafood Cooperative -- comprised of five fishing companies -- is here to "talk about how we fish, not our product," said Jason Anderson, the coop manager.

"The North Pacific Fishery Management Council made a 25 percent cut inour PSC (prohimited species catch) limit and we had to find a way to incentivize our fishermen."

The council asked the coop to develop an incentive program, which the coop worked on last summer and introduced an annual rate-based system. 

"The program gives an additional incentive to captains to keep the rate of halibut to groundfish at an acceptable level," said Anderson.

"Some people are operating under the plan right now and we're currently looking to finalize it, get it into contract form and collect signatures."

--Kim Tran

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Monday, March 7, 2:07 pm EST

Irish marketing group returns to Boston

This is the first time in nine years since Bord Bia Irish Food Board (BIM) hosted a booth at the Boston expo. This year the board hosted 10 of its leading processors among whom include organic salmon farmers.

"More than 80 percent of Irish salmon is organic certified. It helps differentiate ourselves from other countries as we're not a large volume producer. We produce about 15,000 tons of salmon per year," said Karen Devereux, the board's sector manager for fish and seafood.

"One of our largest markets for organic salmon is the United States."

She added it has "definitely seen an increase in demand for Irish salmon in the US market."

The salmon is mostly sold in high end foodservice and retail because it has a higher price point than conventional salmon.

Devereux added it will not become mainstream because of production limits but "we don't compete with conventional salmon companies because organic salmon is a niche product and we've secured a premium in the market."

--Kim Tran

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Monday, March 7, 1:15 pm EST

Sykes gets certified

UK-based Sykes Seafood's shrimp production plant has become the first such plant in Europe to be GAA Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified.

The warmwater shrimp facility was commissioned toward the end of 2015 and increases the capacity of the whole site to 80 metric tons per day, complementing the existing coldwater shrimp production line.

"Having being feted over the years for our coldwater prawn processing, it was a logical progression to look toward the rapidly growing Asian prawn sector and bring a greater provenance and peace of mind to our retail and foodservice customers," said Sykes Chairman Martin Sykes.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 12:15 pm EST

Virtual reality

Panama-based open ocean cobia farmers Open Blue has always been cutting edge--but now it is taking reality virtually.

brian ohanlon glasses.pngThe company has developed a virtual reality video, a 360-degree scan of the farm, where customer and the public alike can see the views that the farmed cobia see.

Now it is available only through special goggles (pictured) but it will launch to the public in a month, Founder Brian O'Hanlon (pictured) told IntraFish.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 10:15 am EST

The first ASC-certified farm in US is ...

Washington state-based oyster giant Taylor Shellfish Farms has become the first in the US to receive Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification, ASC CEO Chris Ninnes announced at SENA16.

The company received ASC Bivalve Certification for its operation in the South Puget Sound basin.

"Taylor ... is dedicated to providing our customers with the freshest, highest quality shellfish available and doing so in ways that respect the environment, our communities and the people who work for us," said CEO Bill Taylor.

Ninnes called Taylor Shellfish "an innovator in the seafood market."

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 10:15 am EST

ASC by the numbers

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) CEO Chris Ninnes and Senior Commercial Marketing Manager Esther Luiten gave an update of the council's year -- and it's been a big one.

The ASC now has certified 4,903 products in 57 countries, up nearly 150 percent since the Boston show last year. The key markets continue to be in northwester Europe -- Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium -- but a boost in France makes the ASC optimistic that they can get into Southern Europe too, Luiten said.

In addition, the ASC now has 243 farms certified and 100 more are in assessment -- a total of 1 million tons of fish.

Of those certified, 50 percent of the farms reported their farms discharged healthier water, more than one-third reported healthier fish, 88 percent reported better employee conditions and 100 percent reported better community relations.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Monday, March 7, 8:59 am EST

The challenge of breaking into America

A few years ago, German frozen seafood group Paulus saw a unique opportunity on the US market: a lack of innovation in the frozen value-added fish market, and salmon in particular.

"We had confidence our products could compete," said Denis Brunotte, national sales manager with subsidiary Delimar.

Alaska salmon with sauces and wrapped in pastry in particular were missing from the market.

But getting a brand into US supermarkets, they learned, is anything but easy. While in Germany slotting fees are almost non-existent, Delimar found that in the US, retailers demand high costs, regular promotions, and a short window for success.

So the company made a shift -- pitching the private label market.

"That's been a much better success for us," Brunotte said.

Delimar is currently working with one private label client, and will add another in September.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 11:00pm EST

Hannaford leads the charge for Jonah crab fishery improvements

A crowd of supporters were on hand Monday night at Luke's Lobster in Boston to celebrate the success of a three-year effort, initiated by Hannaford Supermarkets and facilitated by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, to create a proactive management plan for the region's Jonah crab fishery.

Jonah crab dealers and commercial fishermen implemented a fishery improvement project (FIP) with the goal of ensuring long-term sustainable harvest of the fishery.

Participants in the FIP advocated for management measures that would prevent over-harvesting of Jonah crab, including size limits, protection of females, and requirements for licensing and trap limits.

In August, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted unanimously to implement a fishery management plan for Jonah crab, which included all measures advocated by the FIP work group.

Those measures have already been implemented in many states and will be in effect along the entire East Coast by June 1.

“This is a terrific example of industry collaboration,” said Josanna Busby, Seafood Category manager for Delhaize America, parent company of Hannaford and Food Lion supermarkets.

“We are proud to have been a part of a successful partnership with seafood processors, commercial fishermen, management entities, and scientists.”

The FIP work group included: Bristol Seafood, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, Delhaize America, Rhode Island Lobstermen’s Association, M.F. Foley Company, Cape Seafood LLC, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, commercial fisherman David Spencer, ASMFC member Steve Train, Rick Wahle with the University of Maine, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and The Atlantic Red Crab Company. The project was facilitated by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. ​

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 10:30pm EST

Mariculture in Alaska

Mariculture in Alaska got a boost a few weeks ago, when the governor signed and order establishing The Alaska Mariculture Task Force, which Julie Decker of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) said could really help speed up the further development of a sustainable mariculture  industry in Alaska that is focused on producing shellfish and aquatic plants.

The state has allowed the farming of shellfish and aquatic plants in its waters since 1988, and the industry was worth an estimated $1 million in 2013.

Decker said she is hoping AFDF can play a role on the task force. Members of the task force will be announced in the coming months.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 10:22pm EST

Gfresh eyes more species, global markets

Online seafood marketplace Gfresh launched about a year and a half ago and saw success in selling North American crab and lobster in the Chinese marketplace.

However, they have ambitious expansion plans going forward.

Gfresh has plans to start "scaling up operations in the US, beef up our team, add other species, add fresh and frozen seafood and target other global markets, such as Europe and Japan," said Co-Founder and VP Anthony Wan.

Currently, about 10 to 15 percent of US and Canadian lobster is sold on Gfresh and 65 percent of Canadian Dungeness crab is sold on the site, said Wan.

"Nearly every commodity is bought online, so it seemed inevitable this [online seafood marketplace concept] would come," he said, adding that this could level the playing field as primarily only larger businesses in the industry had the buying power to purchase product at the minimum quantity required for bulk buys.

Wan added that he hopes Gfresh can help smaller foodservice and retail consumers navigate buying and selling in the seafood industry. "We want to take care of market access for you. Now, instead of having to buy at high minimum order quantities, you can purchase just one box."

--Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 10:10pm EST

Atlantic Cape expands VAP

Rhode Island-based Atlantic Cape Fisheries harvests, processes and imports a variety of seafood for retail and foodservice: US wild scallops, clams, farmed and wild oysters, Jonah crab; farmed and wild Canadian scallops and lobster; farmed Peruvian scallops; farmed Chinese scallops and crawfish; and Japanese scallops.

VP Sales & Marketing Steve Zevitas said they hope to increase in its clams category and were featuring new value added products at the expo, which included stuffed clams, crab cakes and bacon-wrapped scallops.

In the US wild scallop fishery, Atlantic Cape manages 21 scallop vessels and through its vessel and dock relationships, it has fleet support for more than 70 independent boats, or 22 percent of  domestic annual scallop landings. It has two scallop production facilities, one in Bristol, Rhode Island and the other in Fall River, Massachussetts.

--Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 6:54pm EST

LM Foods nabs BRC 'AA' stamp

US surimi producer LM Foods debuted a new line of surimi shreds in several flavors: sriracha, sriracha mayo and salmon flavor.

The new shreds are targeted to foodservice and were in R&D for 48 hours said CEO Mark Olivito."We do R&D continually."

He added that the company has internal R&D but, "the best R&D is getting it out to the market."

The company also pushed a natural surimi, which has no tripolyphosphate. The pollock blocks LM Foods orders for this product come with no tripolyphosphate to appeal to natural food retailers.

"Our outlook is very positive and we're up double digits," Olivito said. "However, probably the biggest news is that we are now [BRC British Retail Consortium Global Standards] AA rated as of about two weeks ago."

The AA rating is the new and highest tier for the BRC rating system.

--Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 6:33pm EST

Young firm to break ground on new lobster facility

York, Maine-based lobster distributor Maine Coast announced it will start construction in a week and a half on a new live lobster packing distribution facility on the Boston fish pier to expand operations.

"We're trying to make it a global brand," said Owner Tom Adams, adding that the Boston location will make their company more accessible to global customers. "

The new 5,000 square foot facility will have freezing capabilities and be able to hold 20,000 pounds of lobster.

"We hope to have it open by June," Adams told IntraFish. "It will be the only facility on the Boston pier focused on lobster.

The company hopes to "capture business in the Boston area" but also meet growing demand in Asia, said Annie Tselikis, who recently filled the newly-created position of marketing manager.

She added that the company just "rebranded our POS and marketing collateral to leverage what we're doing in the channel and distinguish ourselves from other lobster companies." The new marketing slogan is 'Lively Lobster:' Location, Innovation, Value, Experience, Lobster, You.

For the young company, timing was on their side.

"We opened in May 2011 just as Asia emerged as market for North American lobster," said Adams. That growth in lobster demand "may have subdued a bit from where it was two years ago, but it's still strong."

About 30 to 40 percent of Maine Coast's lobster goes to Asia.

--Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 6:24pm EST

New flavors, new salmon spread

US importer and processor Inland Seafood has a slew of new products debuting in Boston including a new Woodsmoke Provision smoked salmon spread, which "we're just getting ready to show customers," said Steve Musser, Jr., executive VP. The new product comes in 16-ounce containers and was in R&D for six months.

Also new are several flavored smoked salmon fillet retail packs under the Woodsmoke Provision brand. The honey maple flavor was released six months ago and more recently are tellicherry pepper smoked salmon and champagne herb roasted smoked salmon.

These new portions were in R&D for about nine months and use organic herbs. It comes in club packs and 4-ounce retail vacuum sealed portions.

"Also new is our blue label premium smoked salmon. It's cold smoked and has a 72-hour cure period."

Inland Lobster is ramping up its lobster products with a value added line, which offers consumers lobster tails in a vacuum sealed pan with knolls butter.

Lastly, the Inland Market mahi burger was "tested last year in Boston and the consumer response was tremendous." As a result, it hit shelves right after Boston.

--Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 5:00pm EST

Rebel Fish's new packaging

rebel fish.jpgValue-added salmon brand Rebel Fish has re-engineered its product packaging.

The new packaging, which will be in distribution in a few weeks, allows consumers to see more of the value-added portion and reduces bulk associated with the older packaging.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 4:30pm EST

And the winners are ...

The 2016 Seafood Excellence Awards were announced Sunday, and Trident Seafoods and French Creek Seafoods nabbed the top honors.

Trident won Best New Foodservice for its SeaFusions Pacific Cod Bites and French Creek got the Best New Retail honor for its Kickin Seafood Chili.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges including representatives from US Foods, Loblaws and The Cheesecake Factory.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 4:20pm EST

PR exec: 'If aquaculture were my client...'

Linhart Public Relations exec Paul Raab spoke at an aquaculture session Sunday, and he had some thoughts on if aquaculture itself was one of his clients.

"If aquaculture was my client, I'd ask 'Are there some realities around the [negative] perceptions?'" he said. "Aquaculture has made tremendous progress. If you are a retailer, you should be happy to stock farmed fish; if you are a chef, you should be delighted to serve it."

The advice he'd give aquaculture, he said, is obtain "more and better data," to create "a strong and unified brand for aquaculture," to invest more in marketing, because "this is an industry that's historically underinvested" in that field and to send a strong, positive message about farmed fish.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 2:45pm EST

Snapper, grouper could be in trouble

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) found there's been a steady increase in grouper and snapper landings since the 1950s, but that the stocks were not always properly tracked, especially in developing countries.

The findings, part of an SFP study that was released on the first day of SENA16, concluded that a full assessment of global grouper and snapper stocks is difficult, if not impossible.

"Snapper and grouper are very important to fishing communities around the world, but little science and management is available to ensure the long-term sustainability of those fisheries," said SFP Fisheries Analyst Megan Westmeyer, who prepared the report along with fellow Fisheries Analyst Patricia Amorim. "The US market is a major consumer of these products and thus can be a catalyst for fishery improvement efforts."

The report advises stakeholders to initiative species-specific harvest data collection, improve reporting of harvest data to the FAO and ensure that a fishery management plan is in place.

--Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 2:00pm EST

Cutting down on the crab work

Dannis Schreiber's new to America. The German-born executive settled down in Seattle with his family just six months ago, but already he's identifying new opportunities for his company's products in the North American market.

One product is standing out. While many of Baaders processing products are showing steady growth, the unromantically named BA-2801 hs been booming.

"It really took off," Schreiber said.

Thirty-five units of the crab splitter sold in just 12 months, including eight to Alaska's shore-based sector, one on a Faroese vessel and four on a Norwegian vessel.

The biggest selling points for the product include the reduction of labor needed for the very difficult process of splitting and a three percent increase in yield.

"I've never seen this kind of enthusiasm, or this kind of feedback," Schreiber said. "They're calling us and saying, 'Thank you, you changed our factory.' When does that happen?"

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 2:00 EST

Big Data

Leading traceability firm Trace Register announced at the show that its customer Quirch Foods is expanding its digital traceability program beyond seafood. It is using Trace Register's cutting-edge Traceability Plus (TR+) analytic software for its frozen beef, poultry, pork and vegetable lines.

"There are a lot of business advantages to having access to real-time information about your supply chain partners. Additionally, we will be able to help our retailers and foodservice customers better manage risk, reduce costs and ensure consistent product quality," said Howard Tenen, quality assurance manger for Quirch Foods.

Trace Register's TR+ represents the next level in food traceability, by making supply chain data usable from many different perspectives, including: food safety, social responsibility, timely product delivery, certifications, FDA alerts and more.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 1:41 EST

Looking for aquaculture partners

Beaver Street Fisheries is launching a new project under its Nassau Bahamas subsidiary Tropic Seafood and aims to introduce land-based aquaculture into the Bahamas starting with Japanese olive flounder.

"We started last fall and we're looking for companies to partner with in this program," said Mark Frisch, executive vice president and co-owner. Flounder can be shipped fresh or frozen, whole or filleted, to North American markets.

Beaver Street also started experimenting with grouper aquaculture in the Bahamas as well.

-- Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 6, 1:33 EST

More species please

The Asian Aquaculture Feed Formulation Database (AAFFD) launched earlier this year and was primarily focused on Asian species -- until now.

The database, spearheaded by US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Southeast Asia Technical Director Lukas Manomaitis and University of Guelph aquaculture expert Dominique Bureau, is expanding to three species found primarily in the EU, USSEC's Colby Sutter told IntraFish.

Later this year, the more than 20 different species listed on the database with include seabass, sea bream and meagre.

-- Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 1:30 EST

Una's salmon

Be on the lookout for Una's brand farmed salmon. The folks at Cleanfish expect to be offering this farmed salmon from Iceland in the coming months, as the first harvest is just now coming out of the water.

The product, produced by Arnarlax, is named after owner Matthias Gardarsson's grandmother. After a career in salmon processing, Gardarsson moved back to his childhood village in Iceland to start a salmon farm. Since then, the farm has revitalized the village with jobs and the re-opening of the local schoo, said Dale Sims of Cleanfish.

The fish is free of antibiotics, synthetic pigments and other less desirable additives. Cleanfish is hoping to pair the great social story of this fish and its outstanding taste and environmental credentials to create a niche in the farmed salmon market.  

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 12:15 EST

Grillers and Toppers

True North Salmon, the processing and sales arm of Cooke Aquaculture, debuted several new products for the Boston seafood expo. The new Toppers product offers roasted salmon flakes in two flavors: lemon dill and cracked pepper. The product comes in 4 and 8 ounce packages. The Artisan Smoked Portions line and Grillers line are both new.

The 4-ounce Artisan Smoked Portions comes in two flavors: cranberry and blueberry. This product uses local salmon and local ingredients as the cranberries and blueberries come from the same region.

The Grillers line offers value-added salmon fillets in a silver tin that is microwavable and oven safe. One is plain and ready for consumers to customize while the second comes in a maple bbq flavor. The Grillers line also offers two skewer options, a plain and one in an herb merinade.

"These fresh healthy products are easy to prepare, convenient and are an easy clean up," said Andrew Lively, director of marketing for True North. "The processing and packaging are ready to go. We're talking to potential customers and there's a lot of opportunity with these new product lines." They are targeting the US market.

The products were in research and development for six to eight months.

Lively added that it's been one year since Cooke Aquaculture acquired Wanchese and "so far it's been very successful." Wanchese specializes in wild and farmed oysters, wild shrimp and scallops from the mid Atlantic as well as Patagonian crab from Argentina.​

-- Kim Tran

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Sunday, March 6, 12:06 EST

An Ebay for seafood

Seafood industry trading platform Ocean Executive launched on the first day of SENA16, said founder Mike Budreski, at the company's booth, #2071.

The site, which Budreski compared to an Ebay for seafood, is a private auction and a way for buyers and sellers to come together, he explained.

A supplier can create an auction for their product and invite their network to come bid on it. The bidder can see all the specs and brand for the product, but bidders cannot see each other and who they are bidding against. Buyers, in turn, can also create auctions, advertising that they need, say, 5,000 pounds of halibut, and suppliers can bid against each other. takes a 0.05 percent commission on the sale.

While Budreski stresses that "we're not a posting board," it is a way for buyers and suppliers to connect more easily.

The founder said that they have a few hundred companies registered and ready to use it, from small processors to half-billion dollar giants.

-- Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 12:04 EST

Signs of life in surimi sector?

Kudos to Trans-Ocean for bringing some innovative ideas into the surimi sector this year. The one that has Trans-Ocean's Vice President of Sales & Marketing Lou Shaheen most excited is its new Simply Surimi line -- a gluten-free, non-GMO, limited ingredient product that the company hopes can capitalize on the trend toward natural products.

Everything from the ingredients to the low number of ingredients are all part of positioning the product for higher-end retainers such as Trader Joe's and Costsco.

Another change? Nowhere on the product does it say "imitation crab."

"We just said, forget it," Shaheen said. "We think people know what surimi is by now."

In addition, the company has launched a new surimi-based dips and sauces line.

Its smoked salmon line, meanwhile, will be getting a revamp late this summer, and no longer be produced in Chile -- but on the East Coast of the US.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 11:40 EST

Americold excited about Portland, Maine

Americold is at the show talking about it plans to build a new facility on 6.3 acres in Portland Maine. The company operates 180 facilities worldwide, of which 145 are in the United States.

Eimskip, a global temperature-controlled shipping line based in Iceland, is expected to become an anchor tenant and is considering relocating its North America headquarters to the new facility once it’s completed.

Together, Americold and Eimskip will offer the market full temperature-controlled supply chain capability with multi-model transportation --rail, ocean, over-the-road.

Americold's Daniel Cooke said he is hopeful the facility will be up and running in 2017.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 11:20 EST

Phillips: From Down Under to America

US seafood supplier and restaurant group Phillips Foods is ready to expand its branded frozen seafood line into the US with the addition of Australian favorite barramundi, which it raises in its own cages in off Bali, Indonesia.

"It's like the fish to eat, so we're been getting a lot of customer requests," Director of Foodservice Sales at Phillips Foods Sarah Palmer said.

Phillips sells its barramundi in Australia, but so far it's only brought in small volumes of fresh fish for high-end customers via FedEx.

Palmer said the project is still in development, so it could be sometime before customers can get their hands on the product.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 11:00 EST

Enter the 'Cold Zone'

Chris Johnson and the team from Air Products are at the show introducing attendees to the company's "Cold Zone," where they can learn about the power of liquid nitrogen, the world's coldest regrigerant.

The company's systems are used in the seafood, meat and poultry industries primarily.

A leader in cryogenic technology applications, Air Products offers gas production, storage, and handling equipment, and specific application equipment that includes food freezers, oxy-fuel burners, and heat exchangers.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 10:45 EST

A unifying body

Infofish, a Malaysia-based government organization that brings together the seafood industries of 13 Asian nations, exists to provide marketing information, organize training programs, teach best aquaculture practices and give sound advice to catch fisheries and processing companies, said Sreenath P.G, the senior technical officer for the body.

"We're giving advice, help," he said IntraFish from the body's booth, #291. "In one way, it's uniting the industry."

-- Avani Nadkarni

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Sunday, March 6, 10:45 EST

A delicacy to try

Triad Fisheries is at the show for the first time with a unique product. Known as Bottarga in Italy and Karasumi in Japan, this delicacy is made from fresh, wild Alaska coho salmon eggs that are salted and cured.

The finished product can then be finely grated of thinly sliced as a gourmet topping for pizza, pasta or in sushi, among other preparations.

The product has been entered in the Prix d'Elite competition for the upcoming Brussels seafood show. Target markets are foodservice buyers and gourmet retail outlets.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 10:45 EST

Zoneco marching into Europe

Chinese scallops giant Zoneco -- formerly known as Dalian Zhangzidao -- has already grown its sales network around the world, but one market has eluded them: the European Union.

That's all about to change, according to Zoneco Chairman Wougang Wu.

In 1997, he union banned bivalves from China, but since that time, the government and private companies have worked on food safety standards and lobbied for a change to the rules.

"This is a big development for all of China, and our company in particular," Wu said. "It shows that we meet the rigorous standards."

Wu said the European Union holds some big promise for Zoneco's products, especially with its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification -- notoriously sought after in the EU.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 8:45 EST

Trident has new look

Trident Seafoods is unveiling its new, fresh looking brand campaign at this year's show.

"The Trident booth has broadened its branding beyond rolling fish decks of Alaska and is now angling ts marketing with a more focused consumer message. 

"Trident is shining a fresh light at the other end of its value chain. The company motto has always been 'From the Source to the Plate,' and this year the plate has taken center stage as a platform for Trident’s high-performance value-added seafood and the ease with which it can generate applause," the company said.

The duality of Trident’s mission is summed up by two different, yet complementary phrases: 'Fish. For the Future and Fish, For Compliments."

It’s good for your health, and it’s responsibly managed to ensure it will remain abundant and available. More people will be able to enjoy wild seafood. And the fish will continue to sustain us as long as we sustain the productivity of our ocean and the stocks we rely upon. We have no reason to shirk this responsibility," said John Salle, senior vice president of  Marketing and Innovation at Trident Seafoods,

The other half of Trident’s message at Boston reads, Fish, For Compliments. “What we want to highlight here,” Salle said, “is that Trident has developed an exciting selection of great tasting, easy to prepare seafood items that will generate applause and win you compliments.

-- John Fiorillo

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Sunday, March 6, 7:23 EST

Talk about poor timing

There is such a thing as bad luck. Evidence: Seattle's Loki Fish had to initiate a recall over listeria fears in its wild smoked pink salmon. To their credit, they didn't attempt to keep a lid on it until post-Boston. You have to feel bad for these folks.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 7:01 EST

A little show appetizer

Have you taken our Great Big Boston Show Survey? We've put together 10 questions to help crowdsource some of the biggest news we can expect from the show, and this coming year.

Take the anonymous, quick survey here, and enjoy seeing the results.

--Drew Cherry

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Sunday, March 6, 6:55 EST

All IntraFish, all the time

IMG_7895.JPGAs we have for the past 12 years, we'll once again be launching our popular Boston blog for the #SENA2016 show, with real-time news and updates from the showfloor.

In addition to our regular stories, we'll also be posting video interviews from the showfloor to our YouTube channel, and giving flash updates on our Twitter feed.

You have plenty of ways to contact us with news, tips and all that great show gossip: Visit us at booth 167, email our editorial team at: editorial@intrafish.com, or track down one of our editors or reporters -- Drew Cherry, John Fiorillo, Avani Nadkarni (above left) or Kim Tran (above right) to line up an interview.

Don't miss this year's Boston Show Preview, which gives you a sneak peek at some of the can't-miss new products, news and events.

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Sunday, March 6, 6:45 EST

Lights, camera, action!

Wakey, wakey seafood industry. It's showtime! We have a beautiful Boston morning out there, and while we'll spend it inside surrounded by the warm waft of fried fish and the murmur of thousands of voices, I think we can all agree it's going to be a great day, as usual.

--Drew Cherry

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