Emphasizing the contributions of New Jersey's seafood industry to advance the state and local economies, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno visited Barnegat Light's Viking Village, a commercial seafood production company. Today's visit marks the Lt. Governor's fifth stop on her month long tour of agribusinesses across New Jersey, with a spotlight on the importance of New Jersey caught and processed seafood to the state and local economies. In addition to providing a market for local fisherman by buying their freshly caught seafood, Viking Village also purchases goods and services with a local focus, sustaining jobs for people within the Jersey Shore region.
The economic impact of Viking Village - and New Jersey's seafood industry overall - extends far beyond the docks, making sales of Jersey Seafood vital to jobs and a variety of economic opportunities along the Jersey Shore and across the state. Viking contracts with a New Jersey cardboard box manufacturer to store and ship processed seafood. To transport the packed boxes of seafood to its customers, Viking contracts with a New Jersey freight trucking company.
"Fresh and delicious seafood is a popular staple of New Jersey's agriculture industry and is critical to both the state and local economies along the Jersey Shore," said Lt. Governor Guadagno. "New Jersey fisherman, seafood processors, truckers, restaurants and supermarkets all rely on a thriving New Jersey seafood industry for their livelihood. The Christie Administration is committed to continue making New Jersey a business-friendly environment to help companies like Viking Village succeed and expand in the state."
The family-owned Viking Village was founded in the 1920s and has a rich heritage within Barnegat Light. Able to accommodate up to 45 commercial fishing boats, Viking Village processes about 6 million pounds of seafood a year, which is sold to stores and restaurants in New Jersey and throughout the country. Seafood processed at Viking Village includes sea scallops, bluefish, golden tilefish, croaker, swordfish, tuna and monkfish. The company uses a variety of fishing techniques to limit their impact on the sea life environment while still producing millions of seafood annually. Viking Village also works closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service who plays a major role in management.
"Coastal development began as small fishing communities throughout New Jersey's coastline. Through conservation and responsible fishing practices, we have every interest in protecting the healthful resource and the very valuable contribution economically to New Jersey," said Viking Village general manager Ernie Panacek. "Commercial fishing parallels New Jersey's very valuable agricultural industry, providing food essentially for the world populations. Fishermen are farmers too."
In 2010, New Jersey fishermen reeled in 162 million pounds of seafood, valued at $178 million and helped generate a billion dollars of economic activity. The industry generates thousands of jobs, including 2,500 commercial fisherman, 1,500 of which are employed by 109 seafood processors and dealers.
The Jersey Seafood logo identifies local seafood and helps assure quality and is modeled after the state's successful Jersey Fresh branding program for produce. Upon being licensed, aquatic farmers, commercial seafood harvesters and packer/processors of New Jersey seafood commodities may market their products using the Jersey Seafood logo. Every year, seafood chefs from across the state compete at the Jersey Seafood Challenge, which takes place at the Governor's residence, Drumthwacket. The winning chef has been sent to compete against chefs from across the nation at the Great American Seafood Cook-off every year since 2008. In 2009, Peter Fischbach, head of dining service at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, placed second in the national competition, while Scott Anderson of elements restaurant in Princeton placed third last year.
New Jersey produces more than 100 kinds of fruits and vegetables and ranks among the nation's largest producers of blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, snap beans, spinach, and squash. The state's 10,300 farms generated sales of about $1.1 billion in 2011. This includes nursery and greenhouse plants, sod, fruits and vegetables, field crops, equine, poultry and eggs, and dairy.
Led by Lt. Governor Guadagno, the New Jersey Partnership for Action (PFA) supports the vital role business plays in advancing the state's economy and creating jobs. The PFA is a three-pronged public-private approach to economic development and the starting point for all initiatives, policies, and efforts to grow New Jersey's economy and create quality, sustainable jobs in our communities. The three elements of the PFA include the Business Action Center, reporting directly to the Lt. Governor and providing the business community with a single point of contact, applying a proactive, customer-service approach to businesses' interactions with State government; the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, serving as the state's "bank for business"; and Choose New Jersey, an independently funded and operated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation created to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey.