The appointment of Woodrow, who has for months served as interim executive director and communications director, comes as ASMI embarks on an aggressive effort, aided by federal funding, to increase its presence in Southeast Asia markets and also seeks potential partners in reprocessing there.
“The ASMI board is proud to have a life-long Alaskan with close ties to Alaska’s fishing industry lead Alaska seafood’s global marketing efforts,” said Jack Schultheis, chairman of the ASMI board. “The Alaska seafood brand is as strong as ever and we are confident that Jeremy’s leadership will advance the direction and mission of the agency.”
ASMI has been successful in recent years in getting some $4.5 million annually from the US Department of Agriculture, and now, with the tariff battle heated up between the US and China, federal relief funds have been made available to the agricultural industries, including fisheries, to market seafood into overseas markets impacted by tariff issues.
To that end, ASMI has been allocated $5.5 million through the US Department of Agriculture’s agricultural trade promotion, over the next three years, Woodrow said.
The trade conflict with China and the US has exposed Alaska’s dependence on China markets and we need to increase our market presence in the world, he said. ASMI is working with Agrisource, in Bangkok, Thailand, a marketing representative for Southeast Asia, to find new markets and potential reprocessing options, he said.
ASMI is also expanding efforts for overseas marketing in South America, and its marketing representative in Brazil will now be looking for potential new markets and reprocessing options all over South America.
With this expanded effort, ASMI is also aware that labor standards have become a larger issue for fishing organizations, Woodrow said. In fact the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation has produced documents to show that on fishing vessels in Alaska crew are treated fairly.
“We have tackled sustainability and the next issue is human responsibility,” Woodrow said. “We will only engage with partners who can show they can meet global standards (for labor),” he said. “Our (overseas) representatives has worked with U.S. customers for over 30 years. “They are familiar with needing to meet the needs of U.S. customers. It is all part of that chain of custody, that we are upholding the moral and business obligations of customers,” he said. Customers now are more shopping with their ethos in addition to their wallet. It helps because Alaska seafood has a great story to tell and we have better labor practices than some other places in the world,” he said.