Rebecca Zeiber
Ken LaValley presented with Outstanding Outreach Achievement Award

N.H. Sea Grant Director Jon Pennock, left, presented Ken La Valley with his award at a regional Sea Grant meeting in May.

Ken La Valley, assistant director for extension and commercial fisheries specialist for N.H. Sea Grant, is the recipient of the 2010 Northeast Sea Grant Network Outstanding Outreach Achievement Individual Award. La Valley received the award for his efforts in helping to develop the "N.H. Fresh and Local" brand and Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) in the Seacoast region.

The award is given out every two years to provide peer recognition of outstanding outreach programs. The Northeast Sea Grant network is composed of programs in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

In addition to the influx of lower-cost imported seafood that has displaced domestic seafood in many commercial markets, the New England fishing industry has been subjected to repeated reductions in fishing opportunities due to new regulations that have taken effect, La Valley explained.

N.H. Sea Grant Director Jon Pennock, left, presented Ken La Valley with his award at a regional Sea Grant meeting in May.

"We needed to start thinking outside the box and find innovative approaches to help sustain the fishing community," he said.

Over the past two years, La Valley collaborated with numerous individuals and organizations to help N.H. fishermen market their catch directly to markets and consumers by establishing CSFs and the "N.H. Fresh and Local" branding campaign. Both endeavors help to support the local economy, provide fresh fish caught and landed within 15 miles of the Seacoast, and preserve an industry that has played an important role in local history, La Valley explained.

Near the Seacoast, Eastman's Fresh Catch and the Yankee Fisherman's Cooperative are two groups that have had particular success with CSFs, he said. The branding campaign was an offshoot of a committee on which he served to help foster support for the N.H. commercial fishing industry. The committee, which was established by the city of Portsmouth, included fishermen, N.H. Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension, Eat Local and Buy Local organizations, business owners and town officials, he said.

La Valley also collaborated with many of these same groups and individuals to help create the first annual Fish and Lobster Festival in Portsmouth. The festival was intended to celebrate, educate and build a consumer connection to local seafood, the local fishing fleet and related businesses. More than 4,000 people attended and approximately $24,000 was raised to help promote the local fishing industry and the festival in subsequent years.

"During my years spent at UNH, these are among the most rewarding efforts I've had to privilege to be involved in," La Valley added.