Direct Marketing

Man in commercial fishing gear holding up a salmon. Salmon in tub behind him.

Direct marketing your catch adds complexity and hopefully increased business profit. Remember, you're not "cutting out the middleman" when you direct market—you are the middleman yourself. That said, successful direct marketers enjoy a special sense of pride in their product, and ideally greater profits for their efforts.

The Alaska and California Sea Grant programs have a wide array of materials for both the potential and active direct marketer.

Below is a collection of Alaska Sea Grant publications related to direct marketing. California Sea Grant has gathered information from many of our Alaska-based documents, plus much more, into their Market Your Catch website, which covers all stages of direct marketing.

"Catcher-seller" permits

A somewhat simpler form of direct marketing uses a "catcher-seller" permit issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Catcher-seller sales are limited to dockside sales of unprocessed and unpackaged products.

Find information and application forms on the ADF&G catcher-seller webpage. Additionally, the "Catcher-Seller presentation below covers the basics of this method of direct marketing.


Basic Startup Guide for the Direct Market Fisherman

Are you really cut out for direct marketing your fish? If so, what permits do you need, and how can you qualify?

This publication teaches direct market fishermen about the regulatory and permitting requirements they must follow, to lawfully sell catch from their vessels. Water supply, sanitation and chilling requirements must be adhered to. All legal aspects, as well as offloading, shipping, and records and reporting business hurdles, are clearly described.

Calculating Profitability for a Direct Marketing Operation

Starting a direct market business requires changes to a traditional fishing operation. Before taking the plunge, a fisherman should weigh the costs against the benefits.

This publication takes you through the needed steps—writing a business plan, projecting cash flow and calculating a “”variable analysis.” Knowing the numbers before entering into direct marketing, or whenever you change your fishing operation, will help you make the right decision.

Catcher-Seller Presentation

Geared toward skiff-based fishermen, this presentation illustrates the basics of ADF&G catcher/seller permits.

Fishermen’s Direct Marketing Manual – 5th Edition

The 5th edition of the Fishermen’s Direct Marketing Manual is packed with updated information on branding, product placement, social media and emerging products for fishermen who sell their catch directly to buyers. First published in the 1990s, the manual has become a trusted, go-to resource for hundreds of fishermen-entrepreneurs. This new edition also has sections on accounting, insurance, digital marketing and commerce, and working with custom processors.

The Fishermen’s Direct Marketing Manual helps readers think through the myriad of issues so they can decide whether this business model is right for them. The manual also takes them to the next step and provides much of what one needs to know to launch a new business or fine tune an existing one

Regulations and interpretations do change, so please check with agencies for updates.

Published by Alaska Sea Grant and Washington Sea Grant.

Labeling Requirements for Alaska Seafood Processors

Alaska commercial seafood processors must label their product according to state and federal regulations. This publication makes clear what information is required—company name, name of seafood, ingredients, permit number, date, weight, care of product, etc.

In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration requires larger companies to state nutritional content on the label. Getting your labels right is an important part of running a legal, profitable business.

The Onboard DEC Inspection

Written for Alaska fishermen with direct market permits, this publication informs captains of small vessels, who process their own fish, how to prepare for a Department of Environmental Conservation inspection.

Operators are advised to have paperwork in order, and to demonstrate that they follow hazard analysis and sanitation protocols. In addition, the inspection is a good opportunity to discuss health aspects of new ideas for fishing business growth, with the DEC inspector.

Working with a Broker or Trader

This publication answers several questions about the seafood brokering and trading business, including what they do, why you might want to use one, how to forge a mutually beneficial relationship, and how you can protect yourself when expanding your business in this way.

Understanding how a broker or trader operates will help you analyze whether employing one is an appropriate addition to your direct marketing business.