GAINESVILLE, Fla. — George Baker hopes to help ensure Gulf seafood remains safe to consume.
As the new seafood safety specialist for Florida Sea Grant, Baker will primarily give seafood processors the best scientific data from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other sources.
He’ll train processors and others in seafood safety. Baker wants to help develop methods to detect chemical compounds that would hinder seafood safety, and he hopes to generate and disseminate basic nutritional information or analysis.
“Working with seafood can be very exciting and quite challenging,” said Baker, who, in addition to his new Sea Grant position, will retain his appointment as an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS. “It seems that there are far more safety issues associated with seafood in the news or on the web than other food commodities like meat and poultry or produce. However, it’s my opinion that, unless you have a seafood-related allergy, seafood is as just as safe, or safer, than other food.”
The Alaska salmon fishery is touted as one of the best in the world. When measured with an ecological yardstick, it is – fish stocks are healthy and the fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as consistently meeting rigorous biological standards. Fish are individually counted as they swim upstream to ensure there are enough to breed.
But Alaska salmon falls behind some of the world’s fisheries in how it benefits local fishermen, processing workers and nearby rural communities, according to a new assessment that ranks the vitality of a fishery by looking at its economic and community benefits as well as its ecological health.
“We wanted to develop a new set of metrics to determine how well fisheries management systems work and to test what factors are most effective in improving them,” said James Anderson, professor of Food and Resource Economics and director of the new Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Anderson is a lead author of a paper published May 6 in the journal PLOS ONE, describing the new methodology.
“These new Fishery Performance Indicators (FPIs) are designed to help us evaluate a fishery system’s performance toward achieving economic, community and ecological sustainability – the ‘triple bottom line,'” he said.
Sea Grant Agent Monica Wilson.
link to video: https://youtu.be/6HAVS5ex8tU
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida Sea Grant’s new Gulf oil spill research Extension specialist, Monica Wilson translates oil spill science to Gulf Coast residents and stakeholders.
Her audiences include commercial, recreational and for-hire fishermen, natural resource managers, elected officials, emergency responders and managers, tourism specialists, port and harbor employees and more.
Wilson works with three other specialists, one from each of the Sea Grant programs in the Gulf – Mississippi-Alabama, Louisiana and Texas — to create a new science education program that disseminates key oil spill research results to industry and community audiences. They hope to disseminate bulletins soon about dispersants as well as fisheries.
As Wilson works with Sea Grant programs in nearby Gulf states, she and other specialists bring different expertise to foster a more comprehensive understanding of oil spill science.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Five years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 men and sent at least 210 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, people along the coast are gathering for a three-city regional forum Thursday. Participants will discuss the spill’s effects on their communities, its lasting impacts and how to prepare for another major disaster.
The regional forum will include the release of results from a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey of Gulf Coast residents from Baldwin County, Ala., to Cedar Key, Fla. The survey looked at coastal residents’ opinions of the status of their recovery five years after the DWH disaster.
Findings indicated that respondents’ levels of satisfaction were lower five years after the spill than before it in several topic areas. This included levels of satisfaction with their community’s economy, community leadership and programs, local media, Gulf coast seafood industry, faith-based organizations and emergency response efforts. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A sampling of more than 1,000 Gulf of Mexico fish, shrimp, oysters and blue crabs taken from Cedar Key, Fla., to Mobile Bay, Ala., between 2011 to 2013, shows no elevated contaminant levels, according to a seafood safety study conducted by Dr. Andrew Kane and colleagues at the University of Florida. In fact, some 74 percent of the seafood tested showed no quantifiable levels of oil contaminants at all.
“Seafood appears as safe to eat now as it was before the spill,” said Kane, associate professor of environmental and global health and director of the Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) holds its annual Spring Celebration, there’s plenty of focus on the School’s storied past, but the event also salutes current students, their achievements and future aspirations, said Tim White, SFRC director and a professor with the School, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The two-day event, scheduled for April 10-11, is part social gathering and part scientific symposium, welcoming all SFRC personnel, students and alumni, supporters and friends, he said. All three of SFRC’s academic divisions take part in the Celebration – Forest Resources and Conservation; Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and Geomatics, which includes surveying, map making and other disciplines involving geographic information.
“This is our one opportunity each year to bring together everyone connected with the School,” White said. “Spring Celebration is supposed to be inclusive, so we try to offer something for everybody.”
Events this year include a barbecue, 5K run, trap and skeet shooting competition, displays and demonstrations, and an awards ceremony for students and alumni, he said. Much of the activity will take place at the school’s new Austin Cary Learning Center, dedicated in April 2014.
For more information and to register for events, visit http://sfrc.ufl.edu/about/events/sc/.
Baskets of hard clams on a Cedar Key dock — Cutline below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Aquaculture, the controlled production of seafood, ornamental fish and other aquatic life, is big business in Florida. In 2012, the state’s producers earned $70 million in cash receipts, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey.
Worldwide, aquaculture is responsible for about half of all seafood consumed, so this emerging sector of Florida agricultural production holds great promise for the future, said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
To inform the public about this rapidly developing field, Florida Sea Grant chose aquaculture as the subject of its latest special report for the statewide business magazine Florida Trend.
The report, “Florida’s Economy Is Expanding Under the Sea,” appears in the April issue of the magazine. It’s the second of a four-part series focused on important opportunities and challenges involving the marine environments off Florida’s shores. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Leslie Sturmer is rooted in the culture – or should we say “aquaculture” – of Cedar Key.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent works with shellfish harvesters and farmers in the small North Florida Gulf Coast town.
“I’ve been in aquaculture my whole life,” said Sturmer, “I’ve lived here for 22 years. I’m married to a clam farmer. I’d like to think I provide assistance to the industry.”
Last month, Sturmer was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society.
“To be honored by your peers is very rewarding,” she said. “I’d hate to think it’s because I’m getting old. To see Cedar Key continue to be a working waterfront community, to see this community be supported by aquaculture is more rewarding than the plaque. But the plaque is recognition that your peers see you’re doing worthwhile work.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida researchers will work with other scientists to study how to make the water and marine life in Tampa Bay healthier, which in turn could help protect Florida’s offshore ecosystems and fishing economy.
Scientists with UF/IFAS are the first researchers at the Center for Conservation, part of an alliance comprised of UF/IFAS, Tampa’s Florida Aquarium, Tampa Electric Co. and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The partnership came about after Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, offered the Florida Aquarium 20 acres in Apollo Beach for off-site quarantine and animal holding in 2012-13, said Craig Watson, director of the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin. Watson suggested the partners bring FWC aboard because the agency was looking for marine enhancement centers, Watson said.
Then TECO, the Florida Aquarium, UF/IFAS and FWC formed an alliance to create the Center for Conservation on the Apollo Beach site, he said. The site is also near TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center. The CFC will try to solve aquatic resource problems, Watson said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A camera can accurately count freshwater fish, even in the thickest of underwater vegetation, a key finding for those who manage fisheries and control the invasive plant hydrilla, new University of Florida research shows.
The finding by UF/IFAS scientists can help researchers understand how many and which fish species are using dense plant habitats, said former UF/IFAS graduate student Kyle Wilson.
While cameras have been used to document fish behavior – including eating and breeding ─ this marks the first time scientists have used video to count fish in underwater plant habitats, Wilson said. In addition, no prior studies that used cameras to count fish verified their fish populations.
“It is commonly assumed that dense and invasive plants, like hydrilla, can drastically change fish habitat quality, primarily through changes in dissolved oxygen levels, water chemistry and habitat structure,” Wilson said. “Whether these changes are good or bad for fish has previously remained uncertain due to sampling problems in dense plant habitats. Using underwater cameras, we have shown that fish can and do use habitats we previously thought were too stressful for fish habitat.”
This is a big problem, especially with hydrilla, a plant that has invaded lakes throughout Florida, much of the U.S., Central America, South Africa and Australia, Wilson said. He estimated Florida spent up to $14 million per year throughout the 2000s to manage hydrilla, while the U.S. spent about $100 million per year in the 2000s for aquatic plant management.