Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What's in a Name? Acceptable Seafood Market Names

As the demand for seafood continues to increase coupled with increased imported seafood, fraud and deception in seafood market has become more widespread in recent years. The flesh of many fish species is similar in taste and texture, which can make it difficult to identify species in fillet form, therefore, making it relatively easy to misidentify and substitute a one species for another.
Appropriate naming is a first, but crucial step of properly identifying fish and other types of seafood. Often one type of seafood might have several vernacular names or two or more species from the different regions might be called the same name. These types of inconsistencies only add to consumer’s confusion. To minimize these discrepancies the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have compiled existing acceptable market names for imported and domestically available seafood. For example, even though basa (Pangasius bocourti) is a type of catfish imported from Vietnam, it is illegal in the U.S. to label this fish as “catfish” to avoid confusion with the domestically produced Ictaluridcatfish.

The FDA Guide to Acceptable Market Names for Food Fish Sold in Interstate Commerce (aka “The Fish List”)provides an authoritative source of common names to establish order in the marketplace and reduce consumer confusion. The lists reflects what the FDA considers the most appropriate market names for the identification and labeling of seafood, and is the agency’s primary guidance for naming seafood sold in the United States. According to the FDA,
An acceptable market name is a name that FDA recognizes as a suitable "statement of identity" in the labeling of a species. An acceptable market name fairly represents the identity of the species to U.S. consumers because it is not confusingly similar to the name of another species and because it is not otherwise misleading. An acceptable market name may be: (1) a "common or usual name" established by either a history of common usage in the U.S. or by regulation; (2) the "scientific common name"; or (3) more rarely, a name specifically coined as the market name for a species, e.g., "basa" is the market name coined for Pangasius bocourti).

Learning more about acceptable market names is an important first step for consumers to protect themselves against economic fraud. Below is a screen shot of the Seafood List. Click on the image to go and review the site.


Here is what the front page of the FDA Seafood List looks like. Notice it provides a description of what the different symbols mean.

Here is an example for what comes up when you search for "grouper." There are close to 60 species than can legally be labeled as grouper in the market place.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reducing Your Risks in Aquaculture

Last week my colleagues and I hosted an introduction to aquaculture workshop for individuals interested in starting up an aquaculture operation in Florida. One of the presentations, "The Pitfalls of Aquaculture: Disasters and Why they Occur" was given by Dr. Diego Valderrama with the University of Florida's Food and Resource Economics Department. I wanted to share some of the information he provided as its very useful for anyone interested in getting into aquaculture.

First off,
"Aquaculture is one strict farming business. The disorganized, the unprepared or the fainthearted need not apply. Aquaculture businesses are especially difficult because of the slim margins, burdensome government regulations, lengthy start-up time, live animal constraints, diseases, power outages, and fluctuating market prices. All who have succeeded have done so through hard work, long hours, significant investment and great personal sacrifice."

10 Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Investment in Aquaculture
Start your Operation with Enough Money- "Undercapitalization" is the number one cause of business failure. You must be prepared for unplanned expenses and unexpected losses.

Avoid Borrowing Money from Relatives and Friends- Do so at your own risk and only with a written legal agreement

Do a Market Study before Deciding which Species to Produce- Determine the range of species able to tolerate your proposed system and climate, of these which are most profitable, and of these which have willing buyers at your required price.

Study the Biology of the Species Before Deciding Which Species to Produce- After your market analysis, you must determine which of the more profitable species are within your capability and your systems constraints.

Avoid Spending Your Money on “Tomorrow’s Technology” Today- If a system sounds too good to be true, beware!

Seek Permits and Approvals before You Build Your Aquaculture Facility- It is to your advantage to know the rules before you design your system; make sure you do so. Apply the
rules during the design process, the species selection and your marketing plan.

Avoid Stocking Your Ponds to the Maximum During the First Years- Inexperienced aquaculturists often try to recapture every dime during the early years by stocking ponds as heavily as those done by experienced farmers. Do not do this! Lower stocking ratios mean smaller returns, but less risk, lower operating expenses and fewer catastrophes.

Avoid Producing Your Crop, then Trying to Market it- Production is only one facet of aquaculture. Marketing your crop should start before the first critter or plant enters the water.

Join Your State Aquaculture Association- Interacting with other aquaculturists will give you an opportunity to learn from others' mistakes, rather than just your own mistakes.

For more information about starting an aquaculture operation visit these useful sites:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tiger Shrimp in the Gulf

Image credit: Texas Sea Grant
A recent newsmaker around Florida and the Gulf has been the  growing presence of the Black or Giant Tiger Prawn(GTP)-Penaeus mondon. I wanted to share some information I obtained from my colleagues with Texas Sea Grant so that you are better informed about this marine invasive species.

What We Know

 The GTP is a commonly cultured species and native to SE Asia.

GTP is the second most widely cultured prawn species in the world. It was recently surpassed by the whiteleg shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. In 2009, 770,000 tonnesof tigers were produced, with a total value of US$3,650,000,000.

In 2010, Greenpeace added GTP to its seafood red list – "a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries". The reasons given by Greenpeace were "destruction of vast areas of mangroves in several countries, over-fishing of juvenile shrimp from the wild to supply farms, and significant human rights abuses"

Females can reach approximately 33 centimeters (13 in) long, but are typically 25–30 cm (10–12 in) long and weight 200–320 grams (7–11 oz); males are slightly smaller at 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long and weighing 100–170 g (3.5–6.0 oz) Larger specimens have been recently reported.

 An major theory of introduction is they were suspected to be cultured in the Dominican Republic and may have escaped there in 2005 when the ponds were breached during a hurricane. Other source theories are ballast water and intentional release.

 GTP are nocturnal and diurnal, aggressive, cannibalistic, competes with our native shrimp for food and habitat, and eats fish bivalves and possibly oysters.

 Several ~ 6” black tigers have been caught in the Gulf and on the East Coast leading us to believe it is reproducing. 

 Shrimp farmers have reported an established population off Belize, but this is not scientifically documented.

Image credit Texas Sea Grant
History of Giant Tiger Shrimp in the U.S.
South Carolina was raising them at the Waddell Mariculture Center in the late 1980s.

An escape from the facility occurred and fishermen off the Carolinas began catching them in 1988.

Many individuals were caught that same year and until 1991, as far south as St Augustine FL.

No more catches were reported until 2006.

Over 200 catches in the Gulf have been noted since 2006. The total actual catch now may be around a thousand individuals.

This species has now been caught in all the Southeastern states from North Carolina to Texas.

Many Questions Still Exist
 Are GTP reproducing, where and what is the impact?

 Will GTP increase in population with climate change over time in the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico and if so, to what extent?

Will they outcompete our native white, brown and pink species?

 Dr Tom Shirely with the Harte Research Institute is concerned the greatest impact will be post larval and juvenile tigers competing for food and habitat with our native Penaeids. He says they may impact trophic cascades, altering the food web’s predator – prey interactions. Further implications could be virus, disease, and possible parasite introductions from tigers to our natives.

 Will they impact shellfish production such as clams and oysters?

  Can anything be done to combat this exotic introduction?

What Can You Do?
If you see a GTP, REPORT IT!
 Here in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has information on its website: FWC requests you report the size, date and location of the capture, preferably with the GPS coordinates, to Larry Connor at 352-357-2398 or ExoticReports@MyFWC.com. Fishermen also are asked to either keep the shrimp for collection or take photos of them for identification purposes

To learn more about the Giant Tiger Prawn click here