If you knew that fish was from Maine, would you pay more?

Would you be willing to pay more for seafood sustainably harvested or landed in Maine?

A survey of 1,000 people through a University of Maine Maine Sea Grant project found that about 75 percent of respondents said they would shell out more for fish if they knew it was harvested sustainably.

About 30 percent said they believe Maine consumers, in general, would pay more for seafood from Maine.

The group’s Seafood Links research project also leaves open questions about just how consumers interpret the idea of a “sustainable harvest” and “local seafood.”

UMaine said in a news release that Brianne Suldovsky, a Ph.D. candidate in communication, conducted interviews at supermarkets and seafood festivals to get to the bottom of that, asking people to write down words they associate with the terms “seafood,” “local seafood” and “sustainable seafood.”

“Most people did not differentiate between ‘seafood’ and ‘local seafood.’ But the answers for ‘sustainable’ were more varied,” the UMaine summary of the research projects stated. “Some wrote nothing at all, or ‘don’t know.'”

UMaine said that Suldovsky has used the interviews with customers and restaurants in Portland and Bangor to craft a 4,000-person mail survey to gauge what people think about seafood sourcing.

In finding consumers appear willing to pay more for certain seafood, the researchers determined that restaurants and major institutions are a major part of getting customers to change habits.

Researcher and former UMaine professor Laura Lindenfeld said those larger institutions can help initiate and create a major market for locally caught seafood.

The preliminary research at restaurants found that chefs in Bangor have a harder time accessing locally caught seafood than in Portland.

The summary of the research stated researchers have perceived an opportunity for a business to distribute seafood from the coast to inland towns and cities, “an idea restaurant owners say they would welcome,” the report stated.

All this said, would you pay more for seafood in either category? Answer in my two Twitter polls below.

Sustainable seafood

Maine seafood

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.