SEAMaR program lead standing in front of the new leased office space for the team.
Jonathan van Senten, VSAREC assistant director and SEAMaR program lead, visits office space recently leased to house the growing economics and marketing team.

The VSAREC (Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center) has introduced an entire team of researchers dedicated to assessing the seafood industry from an economic and marketing perspective.  SEAMaR (Seafood Economic Analysis and Marketing Research) is the next evolution of the economics and marketing program, which dates back to the inception of the VSAREC. SEAMaR is intrinsically interwoven with other core center programs in sustainable food production systems; seafood quality and safety; and engineering, processing, and validation.

A powerful concurrence of factors created circumstances for the program to expand from one dedicated faculty member to a multidisciplinary team with a broad set of capabilities to respond to industry needs. The COVID-19 pandemic upended many things, including the seafood supply chain. While causing severe financial setbacks, the pandemic highlighted the need for a more resilient and competitive seafood industry.

Aquaculture has not had the same amount of attention from economists as larger U.S. agriculture sectors like beef or row crops. Jonathan van Senten, assistant director of VSAREC and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, says that is changing. With more attention and investment in aquaculture, information is needed to help guide and build the economic viability of industry sectors. 

“There is a lot of information that has just not really been collected for aquaculture like it has for other agriculture sectors. People are asking questions. There is a need to do a lot of economic and marketing work, and the formation of SEAMaR is really a product of that need for information,” said van Senten, SEAMaR program lead.

Though a new VSAREC research and office facility is slated for completion by the end of the year, SEAMaR, with its addition of 2 positions in 2020 and 2 positions in 2021, rapidly outgrew both the current facility and even the capacity of the new facility. VSAREC leased office space in downtown Hampton, just a few blocks from the VSAREC headquarters, to accommodate the growing team.

Contact information for the SEAMaR office:
27 W Queensway, Suite 204 Hampton, VA 23669
+1 (757) 900-9912

Jonathan van Senten standing outside of newly leased office space.
Located in Hampton, Virginia, the SEAMaR team office is a short walk from the main VSAREC facility.

Written by Keri Rouse