FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kent Laborde
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hosted the 27th Annual NOAA Fish Fry at the Commerce Department in Washington yesterday. This year's event focused on using sustainably reared aquaculture fish and shellfish products.
NOAA sponsors this annual, non-profit event in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and with the support of the National Fisheries Institute. Historically, it has been an opportunity to promote fish as a healthy food source, and to inform the public of NOAA's mission, including wise stewardship and sustainability of fisheries. This year, the benefits of aquaculture were prominently featured.
"The intent was to educate the public of the increasing variety of products that are available through aquaculture," said event organizer Robert Hansen, NOAA constituent affairs officer. "We also want the public to know that these fish can be produced in a way that doesn't harm the environment, and actually creates jobs for American workers."
Run by an all-volunteer crew, the NOAA Fish Fry drew attention to commercially viable and consumer-pleasing aquaculture. Attendees were offered baked, grilled and raw fish and shellfish. The few non-farm-raised species served were from healthy and robust fishery populations.
A brigade of chefs originating from culinary regions as diverse as the East Coast, the Deep South, California and Hawaii, prepared dishes for the more than 1,000 people who bought tickets for the event. Some of the farm-raised fish featured were greater amberjack (or kahala), moi, striped bass, Pacific halibut, Louisiana catfish, hoki and caiparinha (Alaskan) salmon.
Aquaculture, sometimes referred to as "farm-raised" in retail stores, is the introduction, rearing and harvesting of aquatic animals and plants in controlled environments, similar to agriculture.
A Fish Fry tent sponsored by NOAA Sea Grant, the Oceanic Institute and Cates International showcased one of the aquaculture success stories. The aquacultured moi served was from the first harvest of an experimental containment system off the coast of Hawaii. NOAA National Sea Grant College Program funded the project and is in the process of implementing the project through private organizations in Puerto Rico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Maine and the Pacific Northwest.
"We hope that everyone learns that aquaculture is an environmentally correct pursuit and is in balance with its surroundings," said Dr. James McVey, aquaculture program director for NOAA Sea Grant, and a sponsor of the event. "It has the greatest potential for providing new seafood products for the future. NOAA is providing the science for managers to make appropriate decisions."
According to McVey, aquaculture is a boon to American commerce and has already created jobs at a rate of 100,000 per $1 billion dollars in revenue.
"Aside from it being environmentally sound, domestic aquaculture reduces our need to import seafood," he said. "The United States currently brings $10 billion in seafood from other countries. With increased production capacity, our higher yields from aquaculture will bring down this trade deficit, and improve food security where we're not as reliant on other nations for food."
Guests to the Fish Fry included members of Congress, the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies, private industry, non-profit and trade associations, NOAA leadership and employees, and the general public.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit http://www.noaa.gov.
For more information on aquaculture, please visit http://www.lib.noaa.gov/docaqua/frontpage.htm.