Coastal Enterprises Inc., which provides funding and business support to small and mid-sized businesses, said on Saturday it would launch a two-year study with Wholesome Wave to identify the best ways to integrate Maine seafood into the northeast regional food hub system and make it more widely available to consumers.

A food hub is a business or organization that helps manage the collection, distribution and marketing of local and regional food.

“In the current movement to support locally produced foods and rebuild local and regional food systems, the emphasis to date has been primarily on agricultural products. Seafood is not well-integrated into these discussions and efforts,” said Ron Phillips, Coastal Enterprises’s founder and president.

Connecticut-based Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization focused on linking local food producers with underserved communities, met in Portland this week with Coastal Enterprises to discuss the new venture. The two groups, which have worked together for the past year, now will conduct the local seafood distribution feasibility study.

“Getting Maine seafood into New England food hubs will generate economic development and healthy food systems not just for the Maine seacoast but also for business throughout the region,” said Daniel Ross, Wholesome Wave’s Chief Financial Officer.

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