Monday, February 17, 2014

Gulf Seafood Institute names Ewell Smith Interim Executive Director

The Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI), a leading voice for the Gulf of Mexico and the seafood it produces, has a new Interim Executive Director. Ewell Smith, former executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, will immediately assume the interim leadership role.

GSI represents all aspects of the industry. Its mission is to protect the Gulf’s unique culture and environment while elevating the Gulf seafood brand with consumers, consumers, customers and policy leaders through advocacy, education and science. Its board represents every Gulf state as well as every aspect of the industry—both commercial and recreational—and is positioned to be a leading voice on key issues including sustainability, seafood safety, and disaster mitigation and recovery, and data collection.

“I am excited to once again be involved with Gulf fisheries as the Interim Executive Director of the GSI, and to help them grow their mission,” said Smith, who led Louisiana’s state seafood board for more than 12 years. “I am humbled to have this opportunity, given the depth and level of leadership experience of the board comprised of fishery leaders from each of the five Gulf States.”

Smith was instrumental in establishing marketing events that gave Louisiana seafood worldwide exposure. Smith worked closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish the Great American Seafood Cook Off, seen on PBS and the Food Network. In addition, the Louisiana Seafood Cool Off, the Oyster Eating Challenge, the Louisiana Seafood Festival and signature “Po-boy Builds” at the Super Bowl and White House garnered billions of media impressions during his tenure.

Smith said, “It is particularly exciting for me that the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association have become strategic partners in the advancement of Gulf seafood. Their combined voices give our seafood leaders and communities the ability to leverage collective efforts representing two of the Gulf’s most co-dependent and important sectors that translate into tens of thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars in income for state and local governments.”

“Ewell’s team took a local grassroots program and grew it to a national level,” said GSI board member Stan Harris, President/CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “He pulled the LRA into the fold by putting the spotlight on our chefs and restaurateurs. It became a win-win for the state’s fishing communities and chefs; as national media embraced the message of ‘cooking with Louisiana seafood’.”

At the Louisiana Seafood Board, Smith led market development, promotional activities and educational outreach for all of Louisiana’s seafood products, leading them into international prominence. 

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