Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Minutes of October 12, 2016

November 14, 2016

I. Meeting called to order by Chairman-Elect Chalin Delaune at 1:08 PM. Assistant Executive Director Ben Mitchell conducted the Roll Call and noted there was no quorum and only 7 members were present at this time. Mr. Delaune commented that we could not approve the agenda and could not approve the past meeting minutes.

II. Mr. Delaune then asked for the introduction of guests:
Damon Morris, LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Richard Williams, LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Mike Ketchum, New Orleans Fish House
Theresa Overby, Miles Media
Julie Falgout, LSU Sea Grant
Thomas Hymel, LSU Sea Grant
Anne Dugas, LSU Sea Grant
John Fallon, Audubon Nature Institute
Jason Recher, Audubon Nature Institute
Ashford Rosenberg, Audubon Nature Institute
Scott Couvillon, Trumpet
Marianne Ortiz, The Ehrhardt Group

III. Agenda could not be approved as there was no quorum.

IV. Minutes could not be approved as there was no quorum.

V. Committee Reports

a. Mr. Delaune made opening remarks and thanked everyone for being at the meeting. He also made a comment on behalf of Board member Chef Peter Sclafani who recently lost a family member. Mr. Delaune asked the Board for nominations of officers to be sent to Mrs. Karen Profita, Executive Director. He then asked if anyone was interested on being on a nomination committee, and Mr. Kristen Baumer and Mr. Larry Avery both volunteered.
b. Mr. Troy Parria then delivered the finance report, noting a balance of $6.4M.
c. Mr. Delaune then delivered the Legislative report. He informed the Board of the upcoming changes to the oyster harvest regulations, that every 3 years oyster harvesters will be required to take a training program and pass a test with a score of at least 80%. He discussed the new gear restrictions on public grounds, specifically the changes to the classifications of gear, in an effort to move towards better sustainability. He then informed the Board of the month long crab harvest closure to start in mid-February, due to over fishing. The management plan also calls for a ban on immature females which will allow them to reproduce and reduce over fishing. Chef Tenney Flynn asked about pulling up the traps during that month, and Mr. Delaune confirmed there would be a derelict crab trap clean up that coincides with the harvest closure. Mr. Delaune then informed the board of the catch limit and quota increase on red Grouper, both recreational and commercial limits. This will hopefully offset the increase in Mexican caught grouper coming into the market.
d. Mr. Kristen Baumer had nothing to report for the Education Committee, but recommended that the core piece of the education needs to be focused on consumers, retailers and foodservice companies on the sustainability of our food products, which ties into how we spend our money. This coincides with the work of the Audubon G.U.L.F. and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. People want to eat our seafood because it tastes better than anything else but sustainability is becoming more important and we need to ensure we are educating the public about the sustainability of our fisheries. Mr. Delaune then commented that that type of education has been the backbone of our co-marketing campaign.
e. Chef Flynn, in the Marketing report, commented that we have been doing things that aren’t covered by the Mission statement. If we continue this direction, then we need a new mission statement. Mr. Sunseri agreed, and said it has been mentioned in the past. Chef Flynn mentioned that checks are written at the discretion of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor without input from the Board. Mr. Daniel Edgar commented that it was a very good point, and that perhaps we need to ask the Lt. Governor of the direction he wants to take. Mrs. Profita informed the Board of some of the direction that has been discussed with the OLG, which is more focused towards tourism. The Board continued to discuss that they should set their own direction that correlates with that guidance and advise based on those goals. Reference was made to the original intent of the MOU of the BP money, and they discussed changing their direction to fit that of the OLG. The Board requested to receive a copy of the original MOU, Mission Statement, and Enabling Legislation. Mr. Edgar mentioned that a lot of money has been spent on trying to sell product, and not enough effort to look at resource itself, and whether that was within the Board’s guidelines. He discussed how Bullfish have been coming inshore the past several years and he is witnessing his worst years ever. The fisheries have declined in his area. Mr. Delaune also commented on the redfish depleting the shrimp and oyster fisheries. Mr. Damon Morris, Program Director for Sustainable Fisheries with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, discussed that LDWF does not get involved in marketing and that they are a fish management agency. They want to work with the Board to provide the technical data that supports sustainability. He said it should lie within the private sector, and not led by LDWF. He then discussed redfish stock assessments and that it is a political topic. Mr. Edgar believes that he supports some type of commercial redfish harvesting, not gill nets. He also mentioned that the seafood industry employs the unemployed, those leaving the oil and gas industry. His concern is that the fishery has declined. (Buddy Boe walked in at 1:40.) Mr. Delaune mentioned that we could add this discussion to the next agenda. Mr. Morris suggested to speak with the Task Forces to discuss these issues. Mrs. Profita brought the conversation back to discussing the Mission Statement and how the Board would like to address it. Mr. Baumer said we should start out by comparing the Mission Statement to the Memorandum of Understanding and meet with the OLG to ensure we are operating under the same mission. Mr. Larry Avery said addressing the dock side prices is not the route to take. Chef Flynn added a personal endeavor of his to target Lionfish in the Gulf of Mexico. He mentioned some possible plans of attack because if left unchecked, they could destroy several fisheries. Mrs. Profita mentioned that we would send the board members the requested info and look forward to their comment because it helps everyone make decisions.

VI. Executive Summary

a. Mrs. Profita began her Executive Summary by pointing out the Kitchen & Culture Magazine ad as well as the Louisiana Seafood section of the Vistas Magazine, where Larry Avery and Jakov Jurasic are featured. Mrs. Profita then introduced Mr. Buddy Boe, Communications Director, OLG.
b. Mr. Boe updated the Board on the GASCO media summary form Erhardt Group and how the coverage was doubled with a minimum investment by including the event on the office of Tourism newsletter, Social Media, the website. He pointed out that we were able to get a million dollars of coverage. He continued to recap the Summary based on the state and the chef’s home markets. He also mentioned that they added Facebook live to live stream GASCO to the world. Mr. Boe mentioned that the Lt. Governor wants to increase the number of chefs to 15-18 by next year. He then discussed the marketing efforts of National Seafood Month, and how we came up with the Seafood Tour to showcase different parts of the industry. The day was a complete success, and the Lt. Governor was able to meet with the industry and the public to discuss all aspects of Louisiana Seafood. We received about $100,000 value of coverage. Next year the tour will be October 3rd. Several legislative members showed up; Tabasco is excited about partnership. We will add more components and coverage. Next week, OLG will meet with the Board Staff to discuss a campaign for the holidays to do national public relations to pitch LA seafood, and we will possibly conduct a national satellite tour for the Lt. Governor to highlight seafood and LA. Mr. Boe discussed how we have an annual plan to promote LA Seafood, and how all of the agencies are now working together under the OLG. Mr. Boe then asked if there were any questions. Mr. Sunseri asked if we were going to require all chefs to cook with Louisiana Seafood. Mrs. Profita said it has been discussed but ultimately it is the Great American Seafood Cook-Off that allows those out of state chefs to bring something different and unique to them to the competition. But we could consider having an additional event during GASCO that allows chefs to use Louisiana Seafood. Those out of state chefs did a great job representing Louisiana Seafood during their interviews. Karen then thanked Mr. Boe for his attendance and review.
c. Mrs. Profita then mentioned that LASCO could be moving from NOWFE to a different location, perhaps Bayou Country Superfest in New Orleans or to Baton Rouge with collaboration with Baton Rouge Epicurean Society. Mrs. Profita then mentioned the Congressional Staff visit and asked Mr. Mitchell to recap the event. Mr. Mitchell pointed out the locations visited with the staffers and some of the issued discussed on the trip, including H2B works. Mrs. Profita continued to discuss the additional events the Seafood Board participated in, including Fete Rouge presented by the Epicurean Society, Americorps seafood welcome dinner, the LA Seafood Festival, Vistas Magazine Seafood articles, LA Restaurant Association Restaurant week, Inland seafood show, Dallas Economic Development LA night, Senator Cassidy tourism panel in Washington, D.C., Professional Fraternity Association, Cody and Samantha Carroll Mission to Japan, NOLA’s Backyard, Louisiana in the Charleston Low country, and the State of the Seafood Industry Tour by the Lt. Governor. Our upcoming events include the Dock to Dish on November 10 in collaboration with the Capitol Park Museum, so please add any ideas to increase the enjoyment of the evening. Mr. Delaune mentioned sending the info to LDWF so they could also publicize. The Board will sponsor the New Orleans Bowl on December 17th, providing seafood for the authors doing demos at the Book Fest 29 October, a cook-off at Avery Island of LA restaurants outside of Louisiana with Tabasco. Mrs. Profita discussed the status of the Incubator and how Economic Development and Idea Village in New Orleans are interested, as well as the possibility of receiving some Restore Act Money. She also mentioned that the truck wrap program is still going strong.
d. Mr. Delaune then asked if LDWF received BP money for a research facility. Mr. Morris then clarified that there was a disbursement in 2010 that went to the research facility and the Oyster Hatchery in Grand Isle. He then mentioned that Louisiana will be getting nearly $8 million of Settlement money which will go to Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. There was further discussion on how the money was earmarked. Mr. Morris mentioned that he, Mark Schexnayder, and Thomas Hymel were all willing to work with the Board and provide their expertise on creating and operating the Incubator, but no funding was available from their entities. Mr. Parria then asked about the book festival, and if they have any kind of seafood section or kids’ books tailored to Louisiana seafood. Mrs. Profita said she would look into it.
e. Mrs. Overby of Miles then reviewed their recent efforts; Miles is not spending money to promote but focusing more on engagement. 17% of website traffic has been driven by social media interactions. Maggie of Miles has been doing some photography shoots, recently in Dulac and at P&J. Mr. Delaune recommended that Miles reach out to LDWF for photos, and Mrs. Overby said it was easier to conduct the photo shoots themselves so they don’t have to worry about photo credit and there is no question of ownership. They have also created some time-lapse recipe videos featuring LA seafood which are performing very well on Louisiana Travel website. Mr. Mitchell recommended that statements should be included in those videos that show “Louisiana” seafood as the main ingredient.
f. Marianne Ortiz from Ehrhardt commented that Mr. Buddy Boe summed up Ehrhardt’s report. Mr. Delaune had a question about the viewing numbers on the GASCO report. Both Mrs. Ortiz and Mrs. Overby responded, clarifying the numbers on their handouts.
g. Mr. Scott Couvillon reported from Trumpet. Two programs were grandfathered in from the Northeast and no other programs are being entertained because no funding has been approved for new ones. Work orders have been sent to the OLG but there is no green light for those campaigns. Mr. Baumer asked Mr. Couvillon to clarify his statement. Mr. Couvillon explained that Co-Marketing would likely not continue if the mission of the Board is to drive in state visitation. Mr. Baumer tried to gain clarification of the status of the grocery and restaurant campaigns and Mrs. Profita stated that both campaigns were dormant. Mr. Couvillon stated that their campaigns are measured by how many buyers are being driven to the “Buy” Louisiana Seafood website. He pointed out on the one sheet he passed out to the Board that traffic has been dramatically reduced, that no ads are running and there is no Co-marketing push. Mr. Delaune then asked Mr. Couvillon if everything on the campaign that we spent money building is on a decrease. Mr. Couvillon confirmed and drew their attention to the one sheet and described several of the graphs outlying the reduction of activity. Trade traffic has gone next to zero because we’re not doing anything to engage that traffic. It was recognized that that $800,000 was budgeted for the campaign but it has not been approved by the OLG. Mr. Couvillon then commented that the legislative decree of what the Board is supposed to do is three fold: 1. Opening new markets, 2. Focusing on underutilized species, and 3. Raising awareness of the product. Jay Dardenne’s interpretation was to raise dockside prices, but grocery co-marketing campaigns could not accomplish that, there are way too many factors that affect it. Mr. Baumer then made a statement that the Board advised to create the co-marketing plan in efforts to develop new markets and strengthen existing ones, which is in the legislation. Mr. Delaune clarified those discussions happened in the previous administration, and that the current administration has been selective in the campaigns it conducts and that the strategy has been unclear. The Board continued to discuss the history of the marketing campaigns with Trumpet, the effectiveness of the previously developed campaigns, and the timeline it takes to develop. Mr. Baumer commented that there is a credibility issue with not carrying out the campaigns. The Board members are unsure whether they can conduct the campaigns. Mr. Delaune speculated that the direction is moving more towards tourism, putting the seafood money into an umbrella with Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, since tourism has shown a 38:1 return, in an effort to benefit the entire state and not just the seafood industry. The Board continued to discuss the history of the co-marketing campaign and previous companies that have been involved. Mr. Couvillon specifically discussed the history with Hannafords, H-Mart, and Shaws. Mr. Sunseri suggested we move on. Discussions continued concerning the allocation of the budget. Mr. Mike Ketchum of New Orleans Fish House commented that purchasing has continued from buyers without additional money being spent on co-marketing. Mr. Baumer also shared a success story that one of his retailers for the past 7 years has been running the same promotion and purchasing the same products from an initial investment of $25,000. The Board members agreed that it is an easy and inexpensive way to get product in consumers’ hands. Before moving on, Mr. Sunseri asked Mrs. Profita about Louisiana Live, Mrs. Profita asked Mr. Sunseri to provide details so a White Paper could be generated.

VII. Old Business

a. Mrs. Profita stated that the Fairs and Festivals Grant has been written and is currently being reviewed by the Legal Department. The program will be similar to Tourism with a match in marketing dollars. The budget for the year is $200,000 with specific criteria to meet. We have approved several informal sponsorships, but no formal applications.

VIII. New Business

a. John Fallon, Audubon Nature Institute, gave a presentation on Audubon’s G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management Certification. The Board asked Mr. Fallon several questions concerning the funding of his program. Mr. Morris also commented on the LDWF’s position of sustainability and described their involvement and support of Audubon’s program.
b. Mr. Baumer suggested having a meeting with OLG to discuss the importance of a sustainability certification and responsible fisheries management. Mr. Delaune recommended having a marketing committee meeting prior to the next Board meeting and request the OLG attend. Board members continued to discuss how important sustainability efforts are in the eyes of major retailers.
c. Mr. Delaune, Mr. Fallon, and Ms. Ashford Rosenberg also discussed the Obama administration’s position on TED’s. A discussion then ensued about the timeline of acceptance of Audubon’s program as on par with MSC and Monterey Bay. Mr. Fallon, Mr. Morris, Mr. Delaune, Mr. Baumer, and Ms. Rosenberg all commented on the market’s perception of Audubon’s sustainability certification as being overall positive, and the importance of the Gulf of Mexico’s certification. There was also discussion concerning the funding requested by Audubon G.U.L.F

IX. Public Comment
a. Thomas Hymel of LSU Sea Grant informed the board of several initiatives that Sea Grant is involved in, including wage surveys for seafood industry workers, a shrimp quality program with the focus on plate frozen shrimp, a food processors conference in February at LSU campus with Dr. Wicker. LSU Sea Grant received a grant to continue its efforts with its value added seafood products, and they are assisting Louisiana Fisheries Forward with its educational videos with the intention of creating 8 videos in all. He also mentioned the opportunity of hosting the Lt. Governor at Delcambre during his Seafood Industry Tour.

X. Mr. Delaune stated that the next meeting will be December 14, 2016.
XI. Mr. Delaune adjourned the meeting at 3:25 PM.