Oregon’s seafood processing workforce: The connection between demographic change, opportunities and challenges, and community resilience (2018-20)

Marta Maria Maldonado
Associate Professor and Coordinator of Ethnic Studies
School of Language, Culture, and Society
Oregon State University

Co-PIs: Bradley Boovy (Oregon State University), Jamie Doyle (Oregon Sea Grant), Flaxen Conway (Oregon State University/Oregon Sea Grant)

Oregon’s coastal rural communities, including those with a prominent seafood-processing industry, face shifting population demographics: the loss or graying of the non-Hispanic white population coupled with significant growth of new populations and workers, primarily Latinos. Industry needs and challenges are likely to vary based on demographic composition of the workforce and on local community characteristics. Understanding Oregon’s changing seafood-processing workforce and related coastal community impacts may help seafood processors retain a skilled workforce, improve workers’ conditions and experiences, and contribute to effective broader community planning for a stronger future.

Through a case study focused on the Coos Bay/North Bend/Charleston region, which has a wide range of seafood processing operations and emergent demographic change, the research team will address the question, “What keeps seafood processing work vital, and how does this connect to coastal community vitality?” The specific project objectives include (1) collecting baseline data on changes in community demographics, (2) documenting ongoing shifts in the demographic composition of the seafood processing workforce, (3) identifying how workers manage the challenges associated with the unpredictability and seasonality of seafood processing work, and (4) identifying connections between resilience, adaptive capacity, and vitality of the seafood processing workforce and the broader community.

This project will provide information critical to understanding demographic changes in the seafood processing industry, its workforce, and the surrounding communities. Results will generate recommendations for the industry on how to maintain and retain a skilled workforce, and recommendations for the community on how to develop resilience through inclusivity, building on local strengths and assets.

OSG Thematic Areas: Cultural beliefs and learning valuation; Human and natural dimensions of coastal and marine fisheries

National Sea Grant Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Environmental literacy and workforce development; Resilient communities and economies, Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

Learn More:

Dr. Marta Maldonado at OSU: http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/users/marta-maldonado