BOSTON — Fishing industry advocates gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday to celebrate the annual Seafood Day, highlighting the contributions of the multi-billion dollar sector.

The event, co-sponsored by the nonprofit Fishing Partnership Support Services and the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, featured freshly prepared seafood, music, speeches by state officials and industry leaders, and general information about the size and scope of the industry.

“We hold this event because we love our profession, we love the ocean, we love feeding people, and we’re proud of who we are,” Ed Barrett, president of the Massachusetts Fisherman’s Partnership, told the lawmakers, state officials and others who packed a hall at the Statehouse.

The state’s multi-billion dollar seafood industry employs nearly 90,000 people from fishermen and processors to restaurant chefs and wait staff, according to event organizers.

They also highlighted conservation efforts, such as the New England Aquarium’s lobster research and lobster rearing facility.

The fishing industry hopes to leverage a growing interest among consumers in buying local products to lift sales amid intense foreign competition and regulatory pressures.

Lobsterman have been hit particularly hard by the Trump administration’s trade war with China, which has imposed 35% tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — over the past year. As a result, U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off sharply, dropping 80% since its retaliatory tariffs went into effect.

In Massachusetts, the nation’s second-largest market for lobster, sales to China plummeted 62% in the past year, according to export officials.

Barrett said the development of offshore wind farms along the coast of Massachusetts is one of the most pressing concerns for the state’s commercial fishing fleet.

“We know it’s going to be developed, we just want to make sure that fishermen don’t pay an unfair price,” he said. “As scientists have pointed out, we don’t know what will happen to the environment and fish stocks when the turbines are built — and that’s terrifying.”

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhi.com.

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