The Sea Grant Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative, led by Minnesota Sea Grant, hosted a Great Lakes aquaculture seafood booth at the annual NOAA Sustainable Seafood Celebration in Washington D.C. in June 2023.
2023 NOAA Sustainable Seafood Celebration, Washington D.C. Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative booth team from left: Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe, Amy Shambach, Peter Fritsch, Ashtyn Chen, Don Schreiner, Nicole Wright. Image credit: Lori Argulles/NOAA.
In June 2023, fish and seafood raised in the Great Lakes region got a bit more name recognition in our nation’s capital among legislators, their aides, and staff from federal resource agencies during the Sustainable Seafood Celebration, a coast-to-Great Lakes-to-coast seafood cooking and tasting event.
Why does that matter to you?
If you eat seafood, you may have noticed that the availability of wild-caught seafood has decreased and it’s not always clear where in the world your seafood came from or if it’s safe to eat. Demand for seafood is placing ever-increasing pressure on wild fish populations worldwide.
One way to help alleviate some of the pressure on wild populations and provide consumers with high-quality seafood is through aquaculture, the farming of fish and seafood.
But aquaculture in the states that border the Great Lakes is still a relatively obscure industry and legislators, their aides, and resource managers whose jobs affect aquaculture may be unaware about fish farming in this region.
That’s where Sea Grant steps in. Sea Grant and the scientists they fund are leaders in developing innovative technologies for all sectors of the seafood industry, including fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing and consumer safety. Sea Grant research and outreach efforts are focused on ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of seafood products for current and future generations.
Every coastal and Great Lakes state has their own Sea Grant program and the Great Lakes Sea Grant programs joined forces in 2019 and formed the Sea Grant Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative or GLAC.
In 2022-2024, GLAC’s focus is on strengthening the aquaculture community in the Great Lakes region, providing decision-makers in all eight Great Lakes states with science-based aquaculture information and helping clarify how aquaculture regulations are implemented.
"Sometimes people forget that aquaculture also occurs in the Great Lakes region,” said Don Schreiner, fisheries specialist with Minnesota Sea Grant, “This annual seafood event draws attention to the different types of aquaculture products grown nationwide in addition to wild-caught seafood. The event also highlights the great relationships that Sea Grant has with Great Lakes producers like those demonstrated through the activities of GLAC.”
Let’s get back to the cooking and tasting event.
In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hosted their annual Sustainable Seafood Celebration for legislators, their aides, resource agency personnel, and others in the government interested in seafood.
The event, organized by NOAA volunteers, is a highlight of Capitol Hill Ocean Week where attendees can sample sustainable seafood from around the United States stretching from Alaska to the Caribbean. Similar to a farmers market there are a dozen or so seafood producers, each in a 10-foot square canopy booth, who come to D.C. to cook up something special using their product. The attendees get to taste their way from the East Coast to the Great Lakes to the West Coast. Along with tasting, the producers, who may also be the chefs, educate the taste-testers about where and how they grow and/or catch their seafood.
The Sea Grant GLAC team was invited to participate this year and brought two Midwest seafood producers as featured producer-chefs.
So, what was served?
Ashtyn Chen, owner of OceanArc Technologies in Pataskala, Ohio, brought huge, fresh, farm-raised saltwater Pacific Whiteleg shrimp. He prepared them with sliced red pepper and onion in his own Cajun peppercorn base with parsley.
“Ashtyn was so absorbed in cooking and plating his shrimp that we had a hard time getting him to take a break and taste our competition,” said Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe, the then-NOAA-Sea Grant liaison with Michigan Sea Grant and the co-lead for the GLAC booth. Zuccarino-Crowe is now the Great Lakes team lead for NOAA's Office of Coastal Management.
Peter Fritsch, owner of Rushing Waters Fisheries in Palmyra, Wisconsin, created a salad of Wisconsin-raised smoked Rainbow Trout presented in Belgian endive “boats” with green apple and dried cranberries.
“Peter was in motion the entire time, talking about aquaculture with folks who came to the GLAC booth, and serving up his smoked Rainbow Trout salad,” said Nicole Wright, part of the GLAC booth team and Ohio Sea Grant’s aquaculture extension educator and LEARN coordinator.
Modesty aside, Ashtyn and Peter’s products made GLAC one of the most visited booths at the 2023 Sustainable Seafood Celebration.
“Based on the length of the lines at our GLAC booth and the number of repeat customers I feel confident that everyone enjoyed the Cajun peppercorn shrimp and smoked Rainbow Trout salad prepared by the producer-chefs,” said Don Schreiner, Minnesota Sea Grant fisheries specialist and part of the GLAC booth team.
How to find local, fresh fish in the Great Lakes region
- The Great Lakes FreshFishFinder.org website directly connects seafood producers with consumers in all Great Lakes states. Producers can add their business to the site.
- The Eat Midwest Fish website has links to Midwest fish producers, recipes and demos, a fish guide, and a kids’ coloring book.
Facts and resources about aquaculture.
- Sea Grant Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative
- 2020 Fisheries of the United States
- NOAA Fisheries Sustainable Seafood: Seafood Consumers
- NOAA Aquaculture
- Marie Thoms, communications manager, Minnesota Sea Grant.
- Don Schreiner, fisheries specialist, Minnesota Sea Grant
- Chiara Zuccarino-Crowe, NOAA-Sea Grant liaison, Michigan Sea Grant
- Nicole Wright, aquaculture extension educator and LEARN coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant
- Amy Shambach, aquaculture marketing outreach associate, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant