Grant Programs

Grant Programs

Several grant programs (federal, state, local and private) provide funds for seafood marketing and for fisheries more generally. These programs often require little, if any, out-of-pocket costs. However, applying for and accepting grants requires some (possibly substantial) time and effort. While applying for grants can be daunting, reviewing examples of funded project proposals and obtaining guidance from others who have gone through the process can be very helpful. 

Funding Requirements

The types of expenses that a given grant will cover may be limited, for example some exclude salaries and/or capital costs. Most grants require reporting on the use of funds periodically during the project period as well as following project completion. Grant programs also have specific eligibility criteria and funding priorities that can vary from year to year.

Grant Topics

Despite these requirements, some fishermen have benefitted from grant programs for developing new products, starting/expanding markets, and developing educational materials for customers. These programs address a range of topics, including: 

  • Fisheries
  • Seafood pro
  • Agricultural and seafood marketing
  • Food
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Entrepreneur development
  • Sustainability/green projects

Private foundations also may consider supporting seafood alternative marketing projects.


The following are examples of fishing-related grant programs and resources for exploring potential funding:

  • Farm to School Grant Program: Federal funds administered through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for farm to school programs that improve access to local foods (including seafood) in eligible schools.
  • Farmers Market Promotion Program: Federal funds administered through the USDA for expanding direct-to-consumer marketing efforts of food producers (including commercial fishermen).
  • First Nations Development Institute: A Native American institute that provides financial (and technical) assistance to tribes and Native non-profit organizations to support development efforts.
  • Grants.Gov: Online directory of current federal funding opportunities for projects of all types. 
  • Local Food Promotion Program: Federal funds administered by the USDA for marketing opportunities that improve accessibility to US food products, with funds available only to enterprises that work as intermediaries between producers and consumers.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): Online posting of current federal funding opportunities from the USDA for projects on various topics.
  • Philanthropy News Digest: Online posting of funding opportunities submitted by various grant-makers for projects of all types. 
  • Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant Program: Federal funding for fisheries research and development projects addressing aspects of US fisheries, including harvesting, processing, marketing and associated infrastructures. Availability of funds varies from year to year.
  • Santa Monica Seafood Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner (RSVP) Program: Private funding for seafood-related research and education projects.
  • Sea Pact: Private funding for seafood-related research and education projects.
  • Small Business Research Grants: Funding provided by various federal agencies for research grants to support innovative research and technology transfer.  
  • State Fishery Resource Grant Programs: Some states provide grants for fisheries-related projects, including seafood marketing and new product development. Typically, these opportunities are directed toward university researchers who may engage fishermen in projects. Often these grants are advertised and/or administered by state Sea Grant Programs. 
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA). A federal program for businesses affected by import competition that provides grants that pay 50-75% of the cost of consultants or industry-specific experts for projects that improve a business’s competitiveness.
  • US Small Business Administration’s Grants and Loans Search Tool. A list of financial programs that fishermen may qualify for and can use to establish or expand their alternative marketing.
  • Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG): Federal funding administered through the USDA for food producers (including commercial fishermen) to develop business/marketing plans, conduct product feasibility studies, and help cover the costs of value-added business ventures. 

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).