Selling seafood is big business. In 2015, U.S. fishermen alone landed 9.7 billion pounds of fish and shellfish valued at $5.2 billion, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study. In that same year, the study reported that U.S. consumers spent $64.8 billion for seafood at restaurants, and $31 billion in grocers and other retail locations for home consumption. Even if you know everything about the various seafood species you want to sell, there’s more to learn when it comes to making a business out of selling it wholesale. Start by learning about the various factors involved in selling the fish and shellfish that eventually end up on people’s plates.

Satisfy Licensing Requirements

Many states require you to obtain a license to sell seafood. For instance, in Louisiana, wholesale dealers, including fish factories, distributors, processing plants or anyone shipping fish in or out of the state must acquire a license. If you plan to sell seafood to different states, you need to check into the licensing regulations required by each state. Some states require you to keep complete records about what you sell, including the quantity, species and the license information from whom you purchased the seafood, so you must set up a system to keep track of and file these records for at least three years. You also need refrigeration for both warehouse and transportation to ship your seafood to its next destination, unless you only sell locally on a pick-up basis.

Find Suppliers

In order to sell wholesale, you need to find a supply of seafood products. Obtain your seafood from either commercial fishermen or catch it yourself with a commercial license. Another option is to work out an agreement with wholesale seafood businesses, such as processing plants, willing to sell to you so you can turn around and resell it to your buyers. If you sell seafood as a distributor, figure out what types of seafood your clients need, and then look for suppliers willing to let you represent their company as a distributor.

Find Buyers

Potential buyers include restaurants, grocery stores, co-operatives, specialty shops and seafood markets located nearby, around your state or nationally. Buyers place orders for specific species, whether fresh or frozen, so they tend to use different sources for their products. If you sell specific types of seafood that are difficult to get elsewhere, such as blue crab or high-grade salmon from Alaska, this gives you an edge over competitors. Other options include selling your seafood wholesale to roadside vendors or ecommerce sites that sell seafood at retail prices. Consider using a distributor who works on commission, so they’re motivated to sell your seafood once you convince them of your ability to supply what their clients need. Another option is to sell your seafood to other wholesale seafood companies.


Build a website that allows you to update the information on your own, and use the site to reach buyers from across the country. List the species of seafood you offer, and include the prices, which are likely to change daily, so keep the site updated to stay competitive. Provide information on where the seafood you provide was caught to build credibility and trust from the restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses buying from you. Get listed in online supplier directories, such as at, so buyers find your business.