March 1-4, 2020 Clare Winkel attended and was a guest speaker at the 71st Pacific Fisheries Technologists Conference - ‘Trading into the Future,’ hosted on the Queen Mary Ship in Long Beach, California, USA.
And what an experience it was…..
In this blog Clare will provide a synopsis of the conference and trending seafood topics, share the impacts of COVID-19 and how it affected the training she delivered to one of the biggest International Seafood Companies.
But most importantly the annual conference is an opportunity to extend professional networks and build collaborative relationships with like-minded people who are passionate about everything fish and seafood.
Keynote speakers stimulated new thinking across technical, scientific, and ecological topics of importance to the seafood and aquaculture industries worldwide.
Fun facts: Did you know kombucha can be made with seaweed? And that some naturally occurring compounds from shrimp/prawns can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in three different ways.
Challenges of Large Ports: The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach move 38% of all container cargo into the USA, with a value of USD$312 Billion dollars!!!!. These twin ports are no 9 in the world for volume moved, with only ports in China & SE Asia moving more. But I only counted 3 ships emptied/refilled & moving out of the port in the 4 days she was there (Corona Virus).
Leveraging molecular genetics tools to modernize seafood traceability at multiple levels of the global supply chain: More sample surveys of seafood purchased at retail & food service outlets & this time 47% failed the DNA vs Label test. But after the team had undertaken the same trials from 2012 to 2018 the failure rate was down to 28%. But a second project was of great interest to Clare. The team collected fishing boat “hold” water & tested it for fish DNA, then matched against the fish species reported as caught by the crew and then matched to the catch locations on the boat's satellite navigation system. This was undertaken in 3 countries. Turns out the hold water has viable fish DNA for up to 72hrs post catch. And no the crew did not report all fish species caught.
Global Seafood Trading – An Australian Perspective: Threats to the global trade of seafood were discussed along with the effects. Threats included: trade disputes (that lead to tariff changes that lead to volatile prices & changes in products in certain markets & fishers then stopping catching that species), demand changes for different species, Modern Slavery acts becoming legislation in many parts of the world (that requires far more open traceability within the supply chain & much more paper work), failure of the processing sector to utilize all parts of the caught seafood (lots of waste within different parts of the supply chain ie 40% of seafood caught in the USA is wasted along the supply chain), ports as a choke points within the supply chain, rampant food fraud within the industry (leading to a failure in consumer trust & lower consumption), biosecurity issues in various countries (key issue in Aust leading to the complete closure of industry sectors) & climate change (leading to a change in sea water temperatures, then to species distribution & catch locations so geographical based food safety hazards like ciguatera, can change).
Health Benefits of Surimi Seafood: Hands up who knew that the Japanese have been making Surimi for 900 years ? Surimi is the production of formed products from fish protein i.e. crab sticks. But turns out that the consumption of surimi products can lower your blood pressure, improve your memory and diabetes status along with suppress the growth of cancer cells. Fried surimi contains less than 3% fat because the gelling behaviour blocks the oil migration.
Chemical Contaminant Screening to Ensure the Safety of Seafood Products: This was about how much antibiotics & industrial chemicals can be found in farmed seafood. China produces 70% of farmed seafood entering the USA. 95% of shrimp (prawns) consumed in the USA is imported. 80% of salmon eaten in the USA is farmed, mostly from Norway. Think I will stick to paying a bit more for my wild caught Australian prawns.
Seafood Fraud and Mislabelling: One of my all time favourite topics. Through presentation of case studies, prosecutions & another DNA sample trial in Los Angeles. This trial purchased the samples at retail outlets, not food service, then tested the DNA against the labelled species & against the US Federal labelling laws & the Californian labelling laws. 23% failed against the country of origin labelling & 13% had species substitution but there was clear conflict between the Californian & Federal labelling requirements. I learnt that catfish are not kosher.
What is Sustainable Seafood? – Exploring Certification and Beyond: Update on the current status of the Alaskan Responsible Fishing certification scheme. Even with all of the available Eco labels & certification systems the consumer still has no idea what the words “sustainability” means.
21st Century Tuna Processing: Brilliant summary of Tuna Processing through the ages & the US & international regulations along the way. Then the really useful bit, was the summary table of all potential control points monitoring limits, CCP & critical limits monitoring & the corresponding verification activities required. Also, discussions on some case studies of spectacular processing failures & how they occurred. Yep you really need to keep the monitoring equipment calibrated & read the detail on the monitoring forms when your job is to sign off as the verifier.