Vol. 32, No. 4
The 2011–2012 Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute concluded the course with a weeklong business training session in Anchorage, followed by a trip to Massachusetts for the Boston Seafood Show and visits to processors and packagers in New Bedford in March.
Offered by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, ASPLI supports professional development of up and coming leaders in Alaska’s seafood industry. It is designed for mid-level managers, production foremen, and plant supervisors who want to advance their careers in seafood processing.
The ASPLI course began in November 2011 with a 9-day session in Kodiak, when participants reviewed science and technology of seafood processing, marketing, and plant management. Eighteen Alaska seafood workers enrolled in the 2011–2012 ASPLI.
During the Anchorage sessions in March each participant gave a presentation on a project they tackled during the winter, ranging from employee efficiency evaluations to use of salmon bellies and Listeria control strategies. At the Boston Seafood Show, with over a thousand exhibitors, each ASPLI participant picked one of three themes to focus their visit—pros and cons of new products on display, comparisons between wild and farmed fish, or a review of equipment, packaging, and ingredients.
Funding for ASPLI is from participant tuition, the University of Alaska Technical and Vocational Education Program, and the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Coordinators are Chuck Crapo, Paula Cullenberg, and Chris Sannito. The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program plans to offer the fourth ASPLI course in fall 2014.
A lot can be learned at the new website on the Gulf Apex Predator-Prey Project. Geared to scientists, educators, and lay people, the website has information on the 13-year, continuing study on predator-prey interactions in the western Gulf of Alaska northeast of Kodiak Island, and the decline of the western stock of Steller sea lions. Researchers Kate Wynne, Bree Witteveen, and Lei Guo assisted Beverly Bradley, Carol Kaynor, and Dave Partee in compiling the information. The site shows and provides links to photos, publications, and reports that explain the importance of the studies.
Primarily supported by NOAA, GAP studies have been augmented by funding from the North Pacific Research Board and supported by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and many collaborators.
Dion Oxman, Ph.D. candidate at UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, defended his thesis in March, Genetic and Environmental Effects on Developmental Timing, Otolith Formation, and Gill Raker Development in Pink Salmon from Auke Creek, Alaska.
Oxman incubated full and half-sibling families of pink salmon from Auke Creek near Juneau, and third-generation outbred hybrids between Auke Creek females and Pillar Creek males from Kodiak Island, in ambient, chilled, and warmed water. His results show that different biological attributes respond to genetic control and stress in different ways.
Variation in development time of embryos from the odd-year broodline was primarily influenced by genetic factors, whereas no genetic effect was detected in the even-year run. Early otolith development was genetically conserved, but the phenotypic expression of these genes is plastic and strongly influenced by environmental factors. There was no evidence that local adaptation or outbreeding influenced otolith shape. Unlike development time and otoliths, gill raker development was linear and consistently stable in the face of both hybridization and environmental stress.
Oxman’s research provides scientists and fishery managers with better insight into whether and how salmon stocks may lose genetic fitness and consequently decrease production through interbreeding. Alaska Sea Grant provided support to Oxman; his advisor is Tony Gharrett.
The Alaska Forum on the Environment presented its 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award to researchers who led the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) Project—Bruce Wright, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, and Ray RaLonde, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program aquaculture specialist.
The project helps communities that harvest subsistence shellfish better respond to the health threat and minimize the risk of poisoning.
With funding from the North Pacific Research Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wright and RaLonde monitored for harmful algal blooms and PSP in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands and Bering Island area in Russia. PSP was detected in Aleutian and Pribilof Islands during several times of the year, including April, a month scientists thought was too cold for the toxin to develop.
“This indicates that climate change is a likely driver of the increase of occurrences of PSP in the Bering Sea region,” said Wright. The project was developed to address increased risks of PSP due to warming seawater in the Arctic and the shift of species distribution.
Chuck Crapo and Alex Oliveira, UAF Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, organized the 2012 Pacific Fisheries Technologists Conference, the Perfect Catch, held in Anchorage in February. About 45 talks were presented on seafood quality, safety, chemistry, advances in seafood processing and byproduct utilization, and regulatory issues. Sixty-seven people attended from several nations. The conference was followed by the workshop, Smoked Seafood for Fun and Profit, in Kodiak, hosted by Chuck Crapo, Alex Oliveira, Peter Bechtel, and Brian Himelbloom.
The PFT conference, now in its 63rd year, was attended by people from industry, academia, and government agencies including NOAA, ADEC, and FDA. Attendees came from Alaska, Oregon, California, Washington, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of the large seafood processors that operate in Alaska had a representative at the conference.
“I attend it because it is an excellent venue to exchange research ideas with colleagues working in areas and products similar to the ones I work on,” said Oliveira, UAF associate professor of seafood chemistry. “It is a good opportunity to meet folks working in the Alaska seafood industry and to visit with people I have met each year at PFT.”
Student participation is highly valued at the PFT conference, and the graduate student competition helps attract them. Among the 2012 winners was Alaska Sea Grant–supported UAF graduate student Naim Montazeri, who was awarded 2nd place in the oral competition (Refined Liquid Smoke: A Potential Antilisterial Supplement to Cold-Smoked Sockeye Salmon) and 3rd place in the poster competition (Development and Nutritional Quality of Wood-Smoked Fish Sausage Prepared from Pink Salmon).
Notable speakers at PFT included Randy Rice, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, who spoke about Marine Stewardship Council certification of Alaska salmon; and Peter Bechtel, USDA Agricultural Research Service, who gave an overview of research accomplishments of the decade-long ARS project Alaska Fishery Byproducts Utilization. Chuck Crapo tackled an important issue the industry is facing—the changes required by the Food Modernization Act.
Antonio Torres from Oregon State University gave two presentations that attracted interest from industry, on alternative strategies to determine the confidence level in processing, packaging, and storage specifications of foods with a desired safety, quality, and shelf life. Keith Criddle gave an overview of the UA Fisheries, Seafood and Maritime Initiative, which provided information to industry about UA efforts to meet stakeholder expectations for research, education, and service efforts related to the Alaska seafood industry.
High school students on 19 teams competed in the annual Alaska Tsunami Ocean Sciences Bowl in Seward, in March. The 2012 overall winners (knowledge quiz plus research project) were Juneau-Douglas High School’s Pelagic Magic. Second place winners were Cordova High School’s Nefarious Dawgsharks, and third prize went to Homer High School’s Twilight Zone. Diane Murph from Petersburg High School won the art show competition.
The winning team will compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Baltimore, Maryland, April 19–22. The first- and second-place teams are awarded tuition waivers to UAF or UAS. All Alaska student participants are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.
Sunny Rice, Reid Brewer, Gary Freitag, and Izetta Chambers helped coach student teams in their communities. Carol Kaynor, Alaska Sea Grant web coordinator, keeps the Alaska NOSB site up to date. Alaska Sea Grant donated $500 in classroom supplies for the teacher of the Ocean Connection Art competition winner and $500 for the coach of the first-place winning team in the research project category, Ben Carney.
Phyllis Shoemaker, SFOS Seward Marine Center, and Dean Stockwell, SFOS faculty member, organized the 15th annual competition with more than 100 volunteers from Seward and around the state.
NOSB is sponsored by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in partnership with the National Marine Educators Association. The Alaska regional competition is also sponsored by UAF SFOS, with additional support from Alaska Sea Grant and others. For more information see the Alaska Tsunami Ocean Sciences Bowl website.