Oil Disaster Recovery Program
The Oil Disaster Recovery Program (ODRP) evolved from the receipt of $15 million dollars in October of 2010 and is aimed at improving the public perception and confidence in Gulf of Mexico seafood following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Funding for this program, like that of the post Katrina recovery program (EDRP), came from the U.S. Congress following fishery disaster declarations by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Scheduled to be completed in September of 2015, the activities under the program are identified through an ad-hoc advisory committee consisting of the marine resource directors from each of the five Gulf of Mexico states. Under this component, multiple post disaster recovery elements have been executed to address issues relative to improving both the perception of and confidence in Gulf of Mexico seafood products. These include:
Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition
The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition represents all components of the seafood distribution chain, including commercial fishermen, processors, wholesalers, associations, sea grant, tourism boards, restaurants, retailers, chefs and charter boat sectors. The program is facilitated through a contract with the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation which provides staff and related administrative and coordination services. The Foundation is tasked with establishing a cohesive vision and implementing an overarching strategy to promote Gulf Coast Seafood with the mission of expanding the global market share of wild seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
Louisiana Direct Seafood
Louisiana Direct Seafood is a marketing initiative administered by the LSU Ag Center and Louisiana Sea Grant. Their mission is to help coastal fishermen connect directly with consumers and build community support for a fresh, local, product “straight from the boat”. This initiative is also focused on quality business practices, working with fishermen to deliver a superior, sustainable product that meets rigorous standards and preserves fisheries for generations to come. Louisiana Direct Seafood evolved from the Delcambre Direct Seafood model-a collaborative effort of the Port of Delcambre, LSU Ag Center and Louisiana Sea Grant.
MarketMaker is a national partnership of land grant institutions and State Departments of Agriculture dedicated to the development of a comprehensive interactive database of food industry marketing and business information. It is currently one of the most extensive collections of searchable food industry related data in the country. MarketMaker has been implemented in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to provide a region-wide tool that connects fisheries to markets. Via MarketMaker, the Gulf of Mexico seafood industry has greater access to businesses such as grocers, restaurants and hotels where they can sell their products.
Gulf Seafood Trace
The objective of the voluntary Gulf Seafood Trace program is to help drive increased market demand for Gulf of Mexico seafood by telling its unique story and ensuring confidence in the market. Gulf Seafood Trace empowers Gulf seafood businesses by offering complimentary use of robust full supply chain electronic traceability and marketing tools through 2014, together with review and data analysis to confirm the validity of the information being shared by businesses. This program is coordinated by the GSMFC in combination with Trace Register, GCR Inc., MRAG Americas, and Bluefin Data.
Digital Traceability for Oyster Supply Chains
Working with Trace Register, Bluefin Data, and Pole Star Space Applications, the GSMFC studied how using digital traceability methods in combination with the current paper-based oyster harvest tags could improve how the industry tracks and traces oysters throughout the supply chain. Results of this pilot study show that digital traceability is a viable solution for the oyster industry's challenges as it improves efficiencies and helps reduce risk from harvest to plate.
Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.)
The Audubon Nature Institute's Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) is charged with meeting increasing demands for defining and promoting the sustainability of Gulf of Mexico Seafood. G.U.L.F works collaboratively with other elements of the ODRP to identify gaps in management and harvest practices that potentially hinder the recognition of certain species as sustainable based on guidelines developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Marine Advancement Plans (MAPs) are being developed to enhance sustainable fisheries recognition and a web-based information system is being built to define changing levels of sustainability for select Gulf of Mexico species.
Gulf Fisheries Information (FINFO)
FINFO demonstrates the sustainability of Gulf fisheries through education. A collaboration among the GSMFC, the fisheries management agencies from each of the five Gulf states and NOAA Fisheries, FINFO gathers information from across the Gulf to put credible, easy to understand, science-based information about Gulf fisheries, both commercial and recreational, at the fingertips of stakeholders. The site provides information about top Gulf of Mexico fisheries, ranging from basic facts about species biology and habitat to how the fishery operates and how each state ensures these operations are sustainable. Through FINFO, stakeholders can quickly review the status of Gulf fisheries resources or dig deeper to understand the robust science and responsible management at work to ensure our fisheries remain viable so people can enjoy the Gulf's world-famous seafood and legendary fishing for generations to come.
The gap analysis is an initiative in which the current marine fisheries management framework across the Gulf is being examined in order to identify deficiencies between the current management structure and the Responsible Fisheries Management guidelines as defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Identification of gaps and weaknesses in management is essential to developing Marine Advancement Plans that may be implemented to achieve acceptable sustainable fishery ratings.
Kemp's Ridley Stock Assessment
A stock assessment was conducted for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) in the Gulf of Mexico. The primary objectives were to examine Kemp's ridley population status, trends and temporal-spatial distribution in the Gulf of Mexico, and estimate fishing mortality from shrimp trawls and total mortality. Shrimp trawl mortality was identified in 1990 as the greatest threat to sea turtles at sea, and widespread utilization of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) began in 1990 or shortly thereafter. The assessment also considered other factors that may have had significant influence on the population.
Mississippi State Chemical Lab and the Alabama Department of Public Health Testing
This initiative was implemented in the aftermath of the oil disaster and at a time when the need for testing of seafood samples for PAH and dispersants exceeded the capabilities of the FDA approved testing laboratories to respond in a timely manner. There was also growing concern over possible contamination of Gulf seafood among seafood wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, and consumers alike. Under this program, testing equipment and training was funded for qualified laboratories in order to expedite testing.
Currently, testing is provided through a collaborative effort under contracts with the Mississippi State Chemical Lab and the Alabama Department of Public Health Testing Laboratories. Under these contracts approved testing equipment and training is provided to participating labs. The marine agencies of both states provide seafood samples for testing which are collected within approved chain of custody procedures on a regular basis. To date, 1,454 samples have been tested and no levels of contamination have been found to be in excess of FDA allowable limits.