News Roundup 1/30/15

1. Louisiana shrimp landings up for 2014 as local season closes (more

2. Seafood Wars at Texas State Aquarium (more)

3. Audubon Nature Institute releases cold stunned sea turtles (more)

4. Oystermen battle over the future of Texas oyster reefs (more)

 

 

Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries in 2014: A Year in Review

2014 was an incredible year for G.U.L.F.! We made huge strides, and look forward to continuing to unite the Gulf seafood industry in 2015. Here are some of our biggest accomplishments from the past year:

1. Start of Marine Advancement Plans

The start of 2014 marked the launch of our Marine Advancement Plan (MAP) project. MAPs are a tool to communicate the sustainability of Gulf fisheries to retailers, restaurants, or other businesses who want to know detailed information about the sustainability and management of Gulf State fisheries. In addition, MAPs will also identify areas within state management where advancements can be made to be consistent with an international standard of sustainability, Food and Agriculture Organization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Management. We are currently working on six MAPs.

GULF-MAP-progress_process

 

 

Texas Blue Crab

Texas Shrimp

Mississippi Blue Crab

Alabama Blue Crab

Florida Stone Crab

Florida Blue Crab

 

 

 

 

2. Launch of AudubonGULF.org

screen shot web home page

In March, we debuted our new website. Designed as a tool to educate businesses and consumers about sustainability and Gulf fisheries, AudubonGULF.org houses details about our work, species information, and the latest news and events pertaining to Gulf seafood. Check in regularly for updates on our projects.

3. Outreach and Industry EngagementAudubon G.U.L.F. Outreach 05

G.U.L.F. is a regional program dedicated to the sustainability of state fisheries across the Gulf Coast. It is our goal to do outreach and education, as well as industry engagement, across all five Gulf States. We were incredibly busy in 2014 to achieve this goal, and have been successful. At festivals and outreach events, we encourage consumers to support local, domestic Gulf seafood for its unique taste, high quality, and rigorous management that ensures its sustainability.  We have traveled outside our region across the country to spread this message. During our travels we interview members of the industry, from harvesters to retailers, to hear their experiences with Gulf fisheries, how we can enhance the industry, and how they can get involved with our work.

4. Launch of Chef Council

chef council hi res

In October, G.U.L.F announced our formation of the G.U.L.F. Chef Council, a group of ten chefs dedicated to sourcing sustainable Gulf of Mexico seafood in their restaurants. Chaired by Chef Tenney Flynn of GW Fins, the Chef Council will partner with G.U.L.F. to act as a voice for promoting local, sustainable seafood.

5. G.U.L.F Certification Standard

gulf_standard

Over the last two years, G.U.L.F. has been working on developing a standard that will certify Gulf of Mexico fisheries as sustainable. In December, we opened the first draft of the standard to public comment to ensure voices from the industry could be heard as we continue to move forward with this project. The first round of comments will be accepted until February 5th. Send an email to gulf@auduboninstitute.org to submit your comment.

News Roundup 12/29/14

1.  Restaurant partner Meauxbar included in Gambit’s favorite restaurants of 2014.  (more)

2.  Commercial fishing workshop upcoming in Houma, LA. (more)

3.  Nova Southeastern University professor angling for invasive lionfish. (more)

A Bird’s Eye View of the Louisiana Coast

In November, Outreach Coordinator Ashford Rosenberg, took to the sky to take a look at the Louisiana coastline. The opportunity is part of a grant that gives people the opportunity to see how the coast has changed over the last few hundred years. Land loss is a major concern in Louisiana, especially in the wake of several strong hurricanes that have hit the Gulf Coast in recent years. Land built by sediment deposited from the Mississippi River can act as a barrier and help protect against storm surge. However, anthropogenic processes over the last century have altered the flow of the Mississippi River and affected the structural integrity of Louisiana’s wetlands. Many projects have been proposed to address the issue in the hopes of preventing more wetland loss.

delta

Less than 100 years ago, this area used to be farmland. Deltas are notoriously rich in nutrients that facilitate plant growth. However, with alterations to the Mississippi River channel, this area is no longer getting the sediment it needs, and building canals has facilitated the weakening of soil structure and the land washing away.

oil canal

Canals such as these were dug as part of oil operations, and they can be seen in large numbers across the Louisiana coast.

delta community

Communities dot the landscape. People here live largely in isolation, relying on boat transport to get from place to place. In some instances, these areas are fishing camps with temporary residents, but some are towns with permanent residents. The delta provides habitat for many commercially and recreationally important marine species, and the people in these areas rely on that resource for food and income.

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Barrier islands play a large role in coastal ecosystems. They can act as a barrier to wave energy, decreasing the force of waves that reach the mainland. However, they are highly unstable, and move regularly as sediment builds them up and storms wash them away. Plant life plays a role in stabilizing these islands. A variety of planting projects exist, but have varying degrees of success. Other projects have been proposed to help build barrier islands back up again to provide continued coastal protection from wave energy.

It was an amazing opportunity to see coastal processes from a different point of view, and was also quite humbling to see how much a landscape can change in such a short amount of time. Protection of the delta and wetlands is essential to ensure that people in coastal Louisiana can continue to survive and thrive, and with innovation and collaboration, projects that aim to do so can be successful.

Whole Foods’ Plan for Bringing Sea to the Table

In an effort to get Louisiana consumers to choose local, Gulf of Mexico seafood, the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) is teaming up with the Louisiana Sea Grant, area chefs and Whole Foods to launch the “Sea to Table” series.

Beginning Oct. 2 and running four weeks, four Whole Food locations in the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge will take a turn hosting an area chef, who will prepare Gulf of Mexico seafood for attendees. The attendees will tour the store’s seafood department, learn how to prepare seafood and which wines to pair with their seafood dishes.

According to G.U.L.F., Whole Foods is the only national grocer in the United States to offer full traceability, from the water to the shelves, which is why the group partnered with the upscale chain.

“It’s connecting consumers to the fishery, connection to the resource directly, ” G.U.L.F. Program Outreach Coordinator Ashford Rosenberg told Seafood International, adding that the group got the idea from the North Carolina Sea Grant. “It’s something we’re trying to mimic here.”

Full Article

G.U.L.F., Whole Foods Market, and Louisiana Sea Grant Team Up to Host Sea to Table Events in October

Whole Foods Market® hosts October Sea to Table Series

Area chefs to demonstrate easy ways to enjoy Gulf seafood at home

Ticket sales benefit Audubon Nature Institute Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries

and Louisiana Sea Grant

NEW ORLEANS, LA. (Sept. 18, 2014) Thursdays in October, the Whole Foods Market Arabella Station, Baton Rouge, Broad Street and Veterans stores will host sea-to-table tastings with local chefs, Louisiana Sea Grant, LSU AgCenter and Audubon Nature Institute Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.). Attendees will tour their Whole Foods Market store’s seafood department, sample fresh Gulf seafood, taste wine pairings and learn delicious ways to enjoy Gulf seafood at home. Registration is now available at seatotable.eventbrite.com.  Cost is $25 per person with all ticket sales benefiting Audubon Nature Institute G.U.L.F. and Louisiana Sea Grant.

 

Thursday, October 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Arabella Station • 5600 Magazine St., New Orleans, (504) 899-9119

Chef Alex Harrell, Sylvain

Baked Louisiana oysters with mustard greens, pickled lemons, and bacon

Pickled gulf shrimp with chilies and fennel

Chef Eman Loubier, Dante’s Kitchen

Fish in Calamari and Redfish on the Half-Shell

Register 

Thursday, October 9 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Baton Rouge • 7529 Corporate Blvd., Baton Rouge, (225) 218-0452

* With Triumph Kitchen Students

Chef Chris Wadsworth, Triumph Kitchen

Chef Ryan Andre, City Pork II

Register 

Thursday, October 16 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Broad Street • 300 N. Broad St., New Orleans, (504) 434-3364

* With Liberty’s Kitchen Students

Chef Kristen Essig, Meauxbar

Chef Bart Bell, Crescent Pie & Sausage Company

Redfish Courtbouillon and Gulf Seafood Pie

Register 

Thursday, October 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Veterans • 3420 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, (504) 888-8225

Chef Tenney Flynn, GW Fins

Sautéed Red Snapper with Spoonbread and Jumbo Lump Crab Corn Butter

Sautéed Shrimp with Mirliton Slaw

Chef Anthony Spizale, New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway

Crispy Gulf Oysters Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Jumbo Lump Louisiana Crab Cake Fresh Herbs and Light Crab Butter

Register 

“It’s a great opportunity to learn how seafood is sourced locally and various ways to enjoy Gulf species at home, while benefitting a great cause, ” said Kristina Bradford, Louisiana community and media relations coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “We’ve truly enjoyed collaborating with Louisiana Sea Grant, LSU AgCenter, Audubon Nature Institute G.U.L.F. and area chefs to share information on more responsible fishing methods and great recipes to cook with Gulf seafood.”

“The fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico are unique and are such a large part of the heritage of this region, ” said G.U.L.F. Assistant Director Julianna Mullen.  “By working with Whole Foods Market and Louisiana Sea Grant, we can connect attendees of the Sea to Table Events and encourage them to support the men and women on the water who work so hard to bring us fresh seafood every day.”

As the only national grocer with full traceability from the water to the store, Whole Foods Market’s mission is to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability, creating healthy ecosystems so people worldwide can be nourished by seafood into the future. The company does not sell red-rated wild caught seafood and sources from areas where fish are most abundant and fisheries are well-managed. In addition, Whole Foods Market does not carry genetically modified or cloned seafood.

Locally and globally, Whole Foods Market orders seafood daily to meet customer demands and accepts special orders with notice. Its fishmongers can help shoppers decide among a variety of responsibly-caught or farmed seafood. They can also cut to order and offer cooking tips and recipe ideas.

Serving as Whole Foods Market’s Louisiana distributor, Inland Seafood ensures 100 percent traceability from fishermen to table with no additives or sulfites.  For instance, Whole Foods Market prohibits the use of tripolyphosphates, which make shrimp retain water and weigh more. Through sustainable practices, these fishermen are following standards of low impact to the environment and fishery populations, while providing the freshest, highest quality seafood.

For more information on Whole Foods Market’s seafood sourcing and aquaculture practices, visit wholefoodsmarket.com/seafood.

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About Whole Foods Market®
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company’s more than 78, 000 Team Members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 15 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2013, the company had sales of $12.9 billion and currently has more than 360 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

 

About Louisiana Sea Grant

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant (www.laseagrant.org) has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

 

About Audubon Nature Institute:

Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. These New Orleans facilities include: Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Entergy IMAX® Theatre, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Audubon Nature Institute Foundation. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.

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Guest Blogger Jeff Marshall, G.U.L.F. Intern

trawler Watching the weathered green trawling nets slowly rise out of the muddy Louisiana waters, a certain aroma of fresh shrimp slowly envelops the air as the swollen net swings over my head and into the boat. As the haul is dumped atop the holding container, we immediately drop the nets back in the water and start sorting through our catch. I begin to feel right at home as I become temporarily spellbound by this unique aspect of Louisiana culture that relatively few people seem to experience. This is my recollection of my first trip shrimping with my grandfather when I was about nine years old, and it remains an exceptionally vivid memory that I will not soon forget and forever cherish. Though I have not actually been shrimping with my grandfather in a few years, I continue to help him peel and package shrimp for family and friends; for it’s through these seemingly trivial moments such as peeling shrimp with my family that I truly realize how vital our fisheries have become to the local society, economy, and culture.

In addition to the memories of growing up in a fisherman’s family, I have been molded into a person with a deep appreciation for our coastal fisheries. Having recently graduated from LSU and studying a considerable amount of marine biology, I was looking to get involved with coastal fisheries in any capacity; and the perfect opportunity soon became available with the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.). Perhaps the main reason I had become attracted to G.U.L.F. is that we share ideals. My main interest has been to promote seafood sustainability while preserving the socioeconomic uniqueness of the Gulf Coast region, and this has proven to coincide with the underlying mission of G.U.L.F. From conducting field research to making countless phone calls to practically living on the road all in a combined effort to better preserve the Gulf coast and its individuality, the wonderful people of G.U.L.F. have remained extremely proactive in their ongoing and seemingly endless efforts to achieve more sustainable fisheries.

During my time at G.U.L.F., I was able to get a fantastic and in-depth understanding of the issues that remain involved in coastal fishery sustainability and cultural preservation. It’s through the implementation of Marine Advancement Plans (MAPs) throughout the Gulf Coast that has ultimately allowed G.U.L.F. to establish an appropriate plan to monitor communications and the upkeep of the fishery to ensure its continued sustainability. It’s through MAPs, field interactions, and a tireless devotion to coastal fisheries that we are truly able to make a difference in the Gulf Coast community. With the same tireless devotion I have been fortunate enough to promote G.U.L.F. at outreach events, notify the public of the importance of coastal fishery sustainability, meet new people and organizations that are continuing to make considerable strides in coastal sustainability, and assist in the daily operations of the supportive staff of G.U.L.F.

Though my internship may technically be over, my involvement with G.U.L.F., the conservation of coastal fisheries, and the preservation of local culture has seemingly just begun. Simple moments such as shrimping and peeling shrimp with my family make me realize the impacts that certain cultural traditions have on individuals and communities; and it’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure that these traditions are preserved, continued, and able to last for the foreseeable future. I believe that it’s through the continual help of organizations like G.U.L.F. that sizeable advances are constantly being made in the conservation of the Gulf Coast fisheries for the enjoyment of future generations. Lastly, my time here with the great people of G.U.L.F. has only strengthened my desire to become more involved in safeguarding the incomparable Gulf coast community and its vast commodities and customs.

Jeff Marshall

Thanks to everyone who made this internship possible especially Ashford Rosenberg, Laura Picariello, Julianna Mullen, and John Fallon. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here; it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of you all.

Jeff at LRA

Testing Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) with NOAA

One of the hot topics along the Gulf Coast is the incidental capture of sea turtles in shrimp nets. At one time, shrimp trawls were listed as the primary cause for sea turtle mortality in U.S. waters. There are six species of sea turtles that occur in the Gulf of Mexico (leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley, green, and hawksbill) and all are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, multiple management techniques have been implemented to reduce the mortality of sea turtles in shrimp trawls, including reduced tow times and introduction of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) into nets.

turtle totesThere are multiple shapes and designs of TEDs, with new ones being invented each year. In order for TEDs to be approved for use by NOAA, and to ensure minimal sea turtle mortality, they must be tested. Each year, a team of NOAA scientists from all over the southeastern U.S. converge on Panama City, FL to test current and new TED designs, as well as new Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD) designs that minimize the number of finfish caught in the nets.

G.U.L.F. was fortunate enough to join NOAA for a few days to experience what goes behind the development TED regulations, approval, and enforcement first-hand. The operation is quite impressive. Hundreds of young sea turtles, raised in captivity in Galveston, TX are carefully transported to holding pens in Panama City. Each morning, they are loaded into totes on the R/V Caretta. The numbers on the totes correspond with a tag on the turtle’s flipper to ensure no one gets lost.

Once the vessel reaches the trawling site, the boat becomes a flurry of activity. The boat captain and some of the crew prepare to lower the net into the water. Divers load their gear onto the dive boat and set off, waiting for the main vessel to reach a cruising speed of approximately 2.5 knots. A team of one or two boards a second zodiac where they will be in charge of retrieving turtles. Once everyone is ready, a precise and impressive process starts.

IMG_0179Three divers descend upon the trawl where they will be responsible for sending turtles through the net and collecting data. The turtles are, one by one, placed in a “bag” and sent down to the net and waiting divers by what is essentially a sea turtle zip line. Once the diver receives the turtle it is released into the trawl and given 5 minutes to escape as the divers record data. A diver is waiting at the opening of the TED to catch the turtle once it has escaped. A buoy is attached to the turtle’s carapace, which takes it to the surface to the waiting catch boat. If, after 5 minutes, the turtle has not escaped the net, the diver retrieves the turtle and sends it up to the surface. The catch boat retrieves the turtle and returns it to the Caretta and the process starts all over again.

 

A special thank you to the NOAA team for allowing us to tag along on the R/V Caretta. We appreciate the opportunity to allow us to better understand how TEDs work in the shrimp trawl fishery in the Gulf of Mexico, how they have helped reduce sea turtle mortality, and how continued research will help with the recovery of these endangered animals, and also help with the sustainability of the shrimp trawl fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Photo Credit: Dan Foster/NOAA

Eating Local Seafood

Audubon_Sustainability-Infographic

Walk into any grocery store and one will see the importance location has upon our decision to purchase food: Georgia peaches, Florida oranges, Idaho potatoes, Texas Angus beef, and Maine lobsters just to name a few. Not only are consumers paying more attention to where their food comes from, a push for locally grown food is also becoming more apparent in today’s food culture. Between an increase in farmers markets as well as grocery stores that specialize in local and organic foods, the importance of location cannot be understated. The same applies to seafood.

We are lucky in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. We can enjoy a shrimp po-boy or crab fingers and feel confident that we are eating locally caught seafood. The Gulf of Mexico has a rich bounty of species to offer, and it was with this in mind that G.U.L.F. teamed up with NOLA Locavores for the 2014 Eat Local Challenge. The basis behind the challenge is people pledge to only eat food grown or harvested within 200 miles for an entire month. Challenging? Yes. Rewarding? Absolutely. This year, we helped the Eat Local Challenge incorporate seafood into multiple events to highlight the delicious, sustainable seafood that is harvested off the coast of Louisiana. At the finale party, guests enjoyed savory grilled Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico shrimp. In addition, dinners at local restaurants highlighted underutilized species such as squid, bar jack, whiting, alligator gar, and sheepshead.

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While adhering to the 200 mile limit when it comes to seafood may not be possible for everyone in the country, regardless of where you live it is important to pay attention to where your seafood is harvested. Federal and state fisheries management in the United States is some of the best in the world, and, by purchasing U.S. seafood, you are supporting this rigorous management as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on the resource. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at a restaurant or store. Where is this seafood from? Where was it harvested? Is this from the U.S.? Eating locally, whether it be from your city, state, or country, is a great step in being a sustainable seafood consumer.

A Weekend of Seafood Festivals

The approach of warm temperatures means many things on the Gulf Coast: festival season, the height of seafood season, and storm season. This past weekend, all three went hand-in-hand as G.U.L.F. was hard at work spreading the message of sustainable seafood across the Gulf Coast.

instagram borgne

In our own back yard was New Orleans Oyster Festival. Located just outside of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in Woldenberg Park, this two day event highlights everyone’s favorite edible bivalve. Restaurants, bands, and festival-goers braved the rain for a chance to celebrate the heritage of oystering in Louisiana, and of course to try as many different preparations as possible. John got in on the action early, and was so excited about the oyster pie from Borgne that he wasn’t willing to share it with anyone…not even Instagram.

What would a festival be without some competition? Judges looked for the world’s largest oyster, oyster shuckers went head-to-head to determine who was the best in town, and the age old question of how many oysters can one person eat in 8 minutes was answered…and the answer is 40 dozen (480).

 

 

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Simultaneously, Mississippi was celebrating their seafood heritage at the Blessing of the Fleet. As in Alabama, commercial and recreational vessels decorate and line up to be blessed by a priest for safe ventures and bountiful harvest from the Gulf of Mexico. The parade through Biloxi Channel was similar to that through Bayou La Batre. However an added celebration is now part of the 85-year-old tradition: the Mississippi Seafood Cook-off.

 

 

Five chefs showcased the variety of seafood Mississippi has to offer, as each dish featured a different species.  Judges had the pleasure of sampling innovative and creative dishes that featured mahi-mahi, Tripletail,  Mississippi redfish, speckled trout,  Mississippi shrimp, and flounder. Competition was fierce but in the end Gary Hawkins from 1908 Provisions  in Jackson took home the crown, though he was kind enough to share it with Laura and Ashford.  He will take on Aaron Burgau who won the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off, and other chefs from around the country in the Great American Seafood Cook-off on August 2.

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Download the Audubon Gulf Seafood Guide mobile app:
 
Click here for the app tutorial on YouTube.
Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.