NEW ORLEANS-- No matter the seafood dish, the state of Louisiana is now looking to ensure consumers who buy seafood know exactly where it came from.
"This is a program that's going to help the Louisiana seafood industry and economy," said Rene LeBreton of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
This week, the state launched the official "Louisiana Certified Seafood Brand." It is a label that will ensure the Louisiana seafood contained in a package or featured on a menu actually came from Louisiana.
"It's [caught] anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico, landed in Louisiana, packed and processed in Louisiana," LeBreton said. "So, there is a true Louisiana chain of custody there."
The effort to brand Louisiana seafood began in 2009, when the Governor's Shrimp Task Force recommended forming a certification program to combat foreign imports of shrimp. The idea is now expanding to include all Louisiana seafood, which is an industry that has a $2.4 billion annual economic impact on the state.
"It's so much a part of our heritage and culture here," said Ewell Smith of the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board. We've got families that go back seven or eight generations, and the way to support that for the future is to buy local and support our local fishing communities."
At this weekend's Louisiana Seafood Festival, the concept is catching on.
"It's great," said Adele Casanovas of Metairie. "We look for stuff that comes from Louisiana."
The certification program launched this week. Eventually consumers will be able to go on the program's website to find processors and restaurants selling Louisiana seafood. In the meantime, docks, processors and restaurants are being encouraged to sign up for the program at certified.louisianaseafood.com