Our Work

Fish, health, and vulnerable populations: Exploring the Potential for Policy and Diet Solutions

On the US West Coast, rich and underutilized fishery resources exist alongside low income, nutritionally vulnerable populations. This pilot project aimed to examine the potential scope and mechanisms for improved utilization of available seafood to improve diets and reduce incidence of non-communicable disease burdens in poor and marginalized US coastal communities. It had the following specific objectives: 

  1. Identify nutritionally-vulnerable US West coast communities that may benefit from improved fish access; 
  2. Quantify the extent of underutilized species in US West Coast fisheries; 
  3. Identify mechanisms that may block the utilization of such fish by low-income groups, such as fishery management regulations, market structures, and fish handling, processing and storage practices; 
  4. Identify examples where obstacles to access have been overcome and evaluate if such cases could be replicated or scaled. 

This mixed-methods study used existing secondary data sources relating to fish catches, vessel permits, harbor infrastructure, food environments, and socioeconomic conditions to achieve objectives one and two, and collected qualitative interview data using case study methods to achieve objectives three and four.


University of Washington Population Health Initiative


Eddie Allison, Professor, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

Project Coordinator

Zach Koehn

Project Team

Jennifer Otten (Co-Investigator)

Zach Koehn (Co-Investigator), Graduate Student, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Chris Anderson (Co-Investigator), Associate Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Department of Economics

Ray Hilborn (Co-Investigator), Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Emilee Quinn, Research Staff

Project Period

January – December 2018

Project Status


Project Contact

Jennifer Otten