Financing Your Alternative Market

Financing Your Alternative Market

Insufficient capital is a common problem for new alternative marketing endeavors. To avoid this problem, it's critical to estimate costs and have financial reserves on hand to cover those costs until the alternative market becomes self-sufficient. Costs for establishing or expanding an alternative market can vary widely and often are related to the complexity of the market (e.g., number of employees, infrastructure and permit requirements).

You will need not only to have enough financial resources to purchase equipment, supplies and raw material, but also enough to pay wages and operating costs until sufficient cash flow is established.

— Modified from Fishermen's Direct Marketing Manual (2007)


When starting/expanding seafood alternative marketing, expenses incurred may include:

  • Personnel (employees, yourself)
  • Permit fees
  • Cold storage
  • Insurance
  • Fuel and vehicle maintenance
  • Promotional activities
  • Packaging/labeling
  • Educational materials

See Resources:Business Planning & Financial Planning for guides and spreadsheets for estimating costs.

Financial Assistance

Many types of financial assistance are available for alternative marketing, including:

These types of financial assistance vary in their specific terms of use and/or repayment. Fishermen also rely on their own funds and receive financial help from relatives and friends. 

Additional permits and other documentation usually are needed to establish an alternative market. Be sure to consult with resource management, public health and business authorities before selling your seafood.

Information provided on this page was synthesized from interviews with fishermen and buyers, and from the Fishermen’s Direct Marketing Manual, the Small Farm and Direct Marketing Handbook, ATTRA publications, and other resources (see About this Website and Resources).