Volume 1 2015

Ben Hunter of Underground Food Collective and Kathy Kline of Sea Grant. Photo: John Karl


Eat Wisconsin Fish
Looking Back, Moving Forward

Eat Wisconsin Fish.

It’s a statement, simple and direct, using just three words.

It’s also a directive, charging the listener to think about expanding dinner choices and changing buying habits.

And, for the past year and a half, it’s been a statewide campaign led by the staff of Wisconsin Sea Grant, designed to educate consumers on the availability and health benefits of sustainable and healthy fish farmed in Wisconsin or caught in the waters of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes.

The first wave began with a surge of social science. Wisconsin Sea Grant Social Scientist Jane Harrison and Education Outreach Coordinator Kathy Kline conducted multiple focus groups in Milwaukee and Madison to gauge consumers’ familiarity with Wisconsin fish and determine what, if any, barriers prevented them from purchasing and cooking it. They discovered there was a lot of interest…but not quite as much knowledge.

“There wasn’t one place you could go to get information about where to buy local, farm-raised fish,” said Kline. “Now, there is.”

Kline’s talking about the eatwisconsinfish.org website, packed with extensive information about the various types of Great Lakes and Wisconsin fish, a set of home preservation fact sheets and a map that displays locations where Wisconsin fish can be purchased. There’s also a Twitter stream (@EatWIFish) sharing weekly recipes and information about local seafood.

The campaign has hosted several dinner events that brought together local fish, producers, chefs, diners and Sea Grant staffers Kline, Harrison and Fisheries Specialist Titus Seilheimer.

Harrison, meanwhile, has applied for a  Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Buy Local  Grant. If she’s successful, it would fund further efforts to connect producers of Wisconsin seafood to retailers, restaurants and consumers.

“We have a long way to go to making local fish products available in our grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants,” said Harrison.

“The grant would allow us to purchase some valuable marketing space, including targeted social media and online advertisements, as well as hosting events to strengthen the fish product food chain.”

Other building blocks are already in place. Wisconsin Sea Grant Aquaculture Outreach Specialist Fred Binkowski is the man who perfected a process that allows yellow perch to spawn year-round. Binkowski is currently working with Milwaukee-based Will Allen Farms to produce and distribute yellow perch crops to local restaurants. And Wisconsin Sea Grant is also partnered with Chris Hartleb, director of the UW-Stevens Point’s Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, supporting the development of new sustainable fish species like saugeye.

“2014 was a great year to start building the program and message in different outreach events,” said Seilheimer. “Each interaction educated people on Wisconsin fish and then those people hopefully reached more. Once people start making the conscious choice to ‘Eat Wisconsin fish,’ then everyone’s a winner!”

Sea Grant Goes Under the Microscope

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will conduct its quadrennial administrative review of the Wisconsin Sea Grant College program in April. The program’s stakeholders and partners are invited to submit comments.

The director of the National Sea Grant College Program is convening this review to fulfill a Congressional mandate that state Sea Grant programs be regularly reviewed. A site review team of experts will visit and evaluate Wisconsin Sea Grant on April 21 and 22, 2015. The last such review was conducted in 2011.

The National Sea Grant Office will review the following aspects of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s operations:

  • Program management and organization (organization, program team approach and support)
  • Stakeholder engagement (relevance, advisory services, and education and training)
  • Collaborative activities (relationships and coordination)

You are encouraged to email comments to oar.sg.feedback@noaa.gov by April 14, 2015.

Learn more about Wisconsin Sea Grant’s history, leadership, mission and current activities at bit.ly/1Awv8ry.

For further information about this review process, please email moira@aqua.wisc.edu.

President-Elect Hurley
National Sea Grant Association Has Leadership

It’s okay to begin practicing your rendition of “Hail to the Chief.” You’ll just have to wait a few more years—more specifically, until 2017—to use it.

Jim Hurley, director of Wisconsin Sea Grant, has been named president-elect of the national Sea Grant Association, the organization of representatives from the 33 academic institutions that make up the National Sea Grant College Program.

The primary role of the SGA president is educating members of the U.S Congress about the goals and accomplishments of the Sea Grant programs, as well as helping to coordinate their activity. The SGA works closely with the National Sea Grant Office to coordinate activities and help move the program in new directions. In this sense, Hurley will be able to hit the ground sprinting. Not only did he serve a year in the offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sea Grant’s parent organization, but he also made an annual pilgrimage to Washington to visit legislators when he served as Wisconsin Sea Grant’s assistant director from 2002 to 2011.

“I’ve really seen the process from both sides, both from an advocacy standpoint and from someone who’s had to put together a budget each year,” said Hurley. “I think that dual perspective will be valuable for all our programs.”

Hurley also sees his SGA role over the next three years as a great opportunity to help guide and hone Sea Grant’s missions and objectives, incorporating more social science research and increasing a growing national focus on resilient coastal communities and the effects of climate change.

“I follow in the footsteps of some of the core players in developing the framework to promote innovative coastal research, outreach and education,” said Hurley. “It’s humbling to have the support of Sea Grant directors, some of the most creative and respected coastal scientists. I look forward to working with them to promote this great program.”

The Journey Begins for Knauss Marine Policy Fellows

By the time you read this, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s three 2015 Knauss Marine Policy Fellows will be about a month into their new year-long assignments in Washington, D.C. Caroline Mosley, Catherine Simons and Kristina Surfus headed east last November for placement week, where each discovered her exciting fate: Mosley is serving as a communications specialist for NOAA Research, Simons is the policy liaison to the U.S. Navy oceanographer and Surfus will work in the office of Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Look for ongoing updates on their progress on Great Lakes Takes, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Tumblr blog: uwiscseagrant.tumblr.com.

Stories and Science of the St. Louis River Estuary

To residents like Bob Cragin, the St. Louis River, which forms a far northwest border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, transcends cultural and political boundaries. To others like Lynelle Hanson, the river provides a home for birds and the opportunity to educate children about nature. Their stories and others are presented along with information and examples of scientific work going on in the St. Louis River in a new website.

The “Stories and Science of the St. Louis River Estuary” site was created by faculty and staff from the University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Wisconsin-Madison with help from many partners and with funding by the Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant programs and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Featured topics include wild rice, fishing, recreation, community and restoration projects. Site visitors can challenge themselves with “GeoQuests”—iPhone-based games and geocaches that highlight key places and issues in the estuary, or they can use the “deep map” to explore the ecology and history of this special place.

Visit stlouisriverestuary.org to learn more.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents