Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mussel transfer: Overwintering

Blue mussels grow naturally off the coast of N.H., filtering the ocean water to feed on tiny plankton. There have been previous efforts to grow and market N.H.'s blue mussels, but various issues have halted their production over the past few years. With help from NHSG/UNHCE marine aquaculture specialist Michael Chambers and UNH professor of zoology Hunt Howell, N.H. fishermen are renewing efforts to raise and harvest blue mussels.

A new team of fishermen have joined forces to culture mussels offshore from N.H. on submerged long lines. Pete Flanagan and Vinnie Prien have formed the Isles of Shoals Mariculture, LLC that will have mussels for sale by next summer. To help jump start their mussel farm, mussel seed was made available to them from an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) project at UNH.  Mussel seed was collected from the IMTA platform and then transferred a grow out raft under the UNH pier for six months, filtering water from the Piscataqua River. The river has relatively high levels of nutrients for the mussels to extract and grow. They have grown so much that they needed to be reset at a lower density and placed offshore for their final grow out near Rye, N.H. They will remain in this colder ocean water until early summer, then harvested and sold to local restaurants and at seafood markets around the Seacoast.

The process of moving the mussels took three days. Day one consisted of pulling up the lines and stripping the mussels from the lines into tote boxes, and the second day was spent size grading and setting the seed into cotton tube sock for stocking offshore. More than 4,000 lbs. of seed were set into the sock at rate of one pound/foot. A total of 4,150' of seed was transferred to a submerged long line on the third day located three miles offshore.

Fishermen first inspected the lines for growth:

The lines were very heavy, weighing as much as 150 lbs. Fishermen pulled them over to a hydraulic stripping machine that pulled the lines up into a bin to separate the mussels from the line.

A hydraulic wheel pulls the mussel line through a narrow opening that separates the mussels from the line.

Fishermen inspect the stripped lines and remove any other mussels that were left behind.

The mussels that are removed from the line slide down a ramp into a tote.

The result: Muddy mussels from the Piscataqua River, which are then rinsed and size graded.

Thirty-three totes were filled with mussels prior to cleaning and grading.

The mussels were then placed into a hopper where they funneled into cotton tube sock for grow out offshore.

The blue tanks were filled with cotton tube sock filled with mussel seed

The next steps involved placing the mussels onto new line. The mussels use bissel threads to attach to ropes, lines and other structures under the water. Although mussels can settle on lines without any assistance, there are ways to ensure a more even distribution. Fishermen placed a biodegradable tube, sometimes called a sock, around the line and filled the sock with the mussels they had previously stripped off the old lines.

The newly filled lines were taken out to the offshore mussel site the next day. In total, fishermen moved over 4000 pounds of mussel seed, and they will grow to weight approximately 30,000 pounds at harvest time next spring.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sea Grant Exchange Part 2: The South comes North

Gabriela Bradt, Fisheries specialist from New Hampshire Sea Grant and Twyla Herrington, Marine Extension Agent from Louisiana Sea Grant spent five days together in July completing the final leg of  an exchange program that they initiated back in March.  Louisiana Sea Grant has published a news article about the Exchange which you can find here, but below you will find some more details about what these friends and colleagues experienced together.

 Map of the New England leg of the Sea Grant Exchange. The Exchange began in Durham, NH on July 21 and ended in Walpole, ME on July 28th.


            I have been excitedly anticipating the second leg of the NH-LA Sea Grant Exchange and now it has come and gone! Twyla Herrington and I managed to log approximately 1,200 miles (not including the flight from New Orleans to Bangor!) and connected with 5 of our Maine and New Hampshire Sea Grant colleagues. We learned, talked and experienced so much in 5 days that it is quite overwhelming when we sit down and try to capture it all. Here is a glimpse into what we talked about and did- hold on- it is an incredibly long list: We talked about microplastics, trout and salmon aquaculture, shellfish aquaculture, and seaweeds and we ate pickled seaweed stipes, went on 3 boats, saw fin and minke whales, gray seals, harbor porpoises, kittywakes, loons, went to the eastern-most city in the US, floated on the largest tidal whirlpool in the western hemisphere and may have crossed into Canada while chasing seals!  

We shared ideas and experiences, asked a million questions and had the best colleagues in Maine and in New Hampshire that were willing to take us on boats and give facility tours during their weekend or busy work schedules.  As was my experience during my trip to Louisiana, I am amazed by our colleagues in the Sea Grant network, what they do, how they do it and how willing WE ALL are to learn from each other, exchange ideas and open the doors for collaboration. 

While I will leave the rest of the NE leg recap to Twyla- I will say that not only did I learn more about what our colleagues in Maine are doing, but I also got a good dose of what is happening in my own backyard. Though I am aware and knowledgeable of our growing oyster farming industry here in Great Bay, I have actually never been or seen any of our oyster farmers at work or on their farms.  I have spoken to many of them and know some of the challenges they face but I have not had the opportunity to delve much closer than the periphery. Thanks to this exchange, I have been able to really learn and connect with some of the people I work with and in so doing, I have more ideas about programming, potential research and collaborations.  I CANNOT WAIT for the next exchange opportunity to rear up- maybe I will be a part of it, maybe not- but I think Twyla and I have really shown what we can all do together!


From the land of the frozen people to the land of the sweating people, I am happy to report that the recovery is well under way post- exchange!  Re-entry into Louisiana’s blazing heat and humidity has been a bit trying but it seems as though I will survive.  Last year, sitting in Duluth, when Gabby and I started getting serious about this exchange, I could not have imaged the impact it would have (so very quickly) on even my every day activities as an extension agent.

Day 1:  We spent most of the day getting to know the NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension Programs.  Gabby and I spent time exploring the university and discussing projects with her interns and other colleagues.  I was excited to find a connection, right off the bat, with Amanda Parks, an undergraduate at UNH who has been working with Gabby and Erik Chapman on developing an app for finding access to local seafood.  Her work with the NH Fresh and Local Seafood App can directly be applied to our Direct Marketing programs in Louisiana.  Amanda’s recent trip to NOLA led us to a conversation about Slow Food, Slow Fish, and her recent trip out with one of our shrimpers!

Day 2:  We began with a tour of the NH coastline.  Gabby and I made a stop at Jenness beach in Rye, NH for a bit of Marine Debris and microplastics recon.  Gabby’s work along the NH coastline is helping to clean-up and study the effects of  the marine debris problem onshore.  We then headed on to meet up with Michael Chambers, Marine Aquaculture Specialist, at the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex and Coastal Marine Lab.  Our first order of business was to hop on a boat and make a run out to his net pen aquaculture sites at the mouth of the Piscataqua River.  This project is now part of a Co-op of 7 commercial fishermen (turned temporary fish farmers) from the local area.  The steelhead trout are poly-cultured with seaweed on the sides of the cages and rafts. The result is a system that takes out more nitrogen than it adds.  The pens are used for grow out and the fish go to market for around $14.99/lb.  Let’s keep in mind that Steelhead trout are not indigenous to the NH coastline!  Fascinating concept involving local fishermen support.  Inshore, Michael took us around to see mussel floats and seaweed floats.  We were able to tour the lab and see a variety of other projects, also.  One of my favorites included the use of sea urchins to clean bio-fouling of farmed oysters.  A lengthy lunch followed with continued discussion about multi-use processing facilities for the fishermen.  This work directly overlaps with projects in Louisiana and provided a chance to bounce ideas and make invaluable connections in all of our work. 

We headed out once again for an afternoon visit with Krystin Ward, one of the first pioneers into oyster farming in the Great Bay Estuary, and got a tour of her Oyster Farm.  Oyster farming along the East Coast is carried out very differently from what we see in Louisiana or in South Carolina where I had the opportunity to see a farm during a March 2014 visit with Sea Grant agent Julie Davis.

Day 3:  We found ourselves out to sea on the Atlantic Queen II with Captain Brad and Jen Kennedy, Executive Director of Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation and her crew of interns.  The Atlantic Queen is a recreational fishing vessel by morning and whale watching boat by afternoon.  Blue Ocean works with the vessel as their naturalists, providing outreach and education regarding marine mammals in the areas and they also gather marine debris data on the water.  Gabby and Jen have been partners on the NH Marine Debris to Energy Project for several years, which is how I found myself on a work trip whale watch! We spent 4 hours listening for the blow of a whale and looking for plastics in the swell.  I’d say the trip was a success on both fronts!  Finbacks and minke whales were both kind enough to escort us around for the afternoon.  While onboard, Capt Brad filled me in on some current issues with the NH fishing fleet.  Turns out, their guys are in much the same “boat” with our red snapper commercial fishermen in Louisiana.  Half a country apart and so easy to relate!  The trip wrapped up our NH portion of the Exchange and I headed back to Maine for a few days of recuperation. 

Day 4: Welcome to beautiful Bagaduce River, Maine and the Little Island Oyster Company!  Gabby wasn’t able to join me for this visit but I was accompanied by a local friend with connections in the industry.  Frank & Tonyia Peasley, owners and fishermen, live in the area and farm both tidal and subtidal ranges.  The farm is operated on 5.3 acres along the Bagaduce River just outside of Penobscot, Maine.  The tour allowed me to see both the differences and similarities in the NH oyster farms and Maine oyster farms.  Push back from local residents seemed to be a common issue in both states.  I stood on the dock watching oysters being sorted and cleaned, listening to Tonyia explain the ups and downs of being an oyster farmer, while slurping these tasty treats out of one freshly shucked shell after another. 

Day 5: “Eastport and Franklin and on to Camden, Maine with Chris Bartlett and Sarah Redmond.”  Gabby and I started the day off by meeting up with Chris Bartlett in Eastport, Maine.  Chris lives so far north that even our cell phones thought we were in Canada!  My best description for Chris’s work would have to be “dramatic”.  Everything just seems larger from the whirlpools to the marine mammals to the size of his salmon farm operations.  Chris took us around Pasamaquoddy Bay via boat to get a first hand look at the area and the fishing communities.  We took a little time to drift in the Old Sow whirlpool and do a bit of whale watching in the area.  Minke whales and both harbor and gray seals popped up to say Hi. 

Chris is currently working on a bird count project in an area where underwater turbines have been proposed.  His work focuses on the scallop industry, lobster fisheries, and salmon farming in the region as well.  We headed down to Franklin, Maine to visit with Sarah Redmond for the afternoon.  Sarah works out of the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research.  The facility was impressive, to say the least! Sarah is Maine Sea Grant’s resident seaweed guru and she is passionate about spreading the word about the benefits and uses of seaweed- from fertilizer, to food ingredients, even to ingredients for making beer! At CCAR, Sarah showed us where she has most of her seaweed experiments and cultures and explained that she was trying to figure out different ways to culture different species of seaweed from sugar kelp to Grassilaria and Porphyra.  We left Franklin with a jar of Sarah’s own pickled baby kelp stipes which were delicious!

Day 6: On the last day of our exchange, Gabby and I hit the windy coastal road headed for Darling Marine Lab and Dana Morse, Maine Sea Grant agent for the Walpole area.  Dana spent the morning showing us around the lab and discussing some of the projects he focuses on in the region.  Eco-Tourism and aquaculture were resounding words during our day with Dana and link directly with the type of work both Gabby and I are doing in New Hampshire and Louisiana.  The concept of “Oyster Gardening” has been a hit with the local residents of the Walpole area.  Their group uses the program to train individuals on proper oyster growing techniques over a two-year period.  The graduates have gone on to develop their own “gardens” together, also.  We ended the day with a lunch in town and Gabby and out I set out on our southern and northern treks back for the night.  The exchange had proven itself to be invaluable with the discussions and hands on experiences.  Research projects have been developed, workshops have been planned, and a future for the Exchange program has hopefully been written in stone. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Helping aquaculture grow in N.H.

It may not be as historically prevalent as groundfishing, but aquaculture is quickly becoming an important part of the local seafood scene in New Hampshire. This relatively new venture for many fishermen who are seeking ways to supplement their income or transition to a new job comes with its own set of challenges, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking ways to help fishermen overcome those challenges and advance aquaculture initiatives in New England.

Two dozen N.H. fishermen, shellfish farmers, UNH researchers and others involved in fisheries and aquaculture efforts attended a discussion on July 17 at the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex in New Castle, N.H., that focused on challenges and opportunities related to aquaculture. David Alves, Northeast Regional Coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Aquaculture and John Bullard, Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, were also in attendance to find out about N.H. aquaculture first-hand and offer guidance where possible.

“Aquaculture allows us to create food and jobs, both of which are very worthwhile goals,” Bullard said. “Aquaculture holds a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial opportunities. It’s people thinking outside the box and engaging in new ways of doing things.”

Bullard and Alves began the discussion by first asking the group, “What limits the growth and development of aquaculture right now?”

“You’re the ones living it every day, and you know what makes your job harder,” Bullard said. “I need to know what those are so I can help make your job easier.”

Attendees spoke at length about their challenges. Sourcing the aquaculture equipment is a challenge for some of the shellfish farmers, particularly those working in offshore environments where the gear needs to withstand deep water and large waves while remaining economical to purchase. Many of the shellfish farmers and aquaculturists said their gear is made in other countries as far away as New Zealand, making it harder to acquire and return if it does not meet their needs.

Pete Flanagan, co-operator of a mussel farm near the Isles of Shoals, said the permitting process is a big hurdle for aquaculturists working in federal waters.

Alves posed a question to the group: “If the permitting process was more transparent, if you know you’ll get a permit in a year, would that help?” Richard Langan, director for the UNH Coastal and Ocean Technology Programs, said transparency in the permitting process could help ease some of the burden, but aquaculturists would need to see some “success stories” to be able to buy into it.

Michael Chambers, NHSG/UNHCE marine aquaculture specialist, added that demonstration projects have tremendous potential to help by testing the gear technology and vetting the permitting process.

Following this discussion, Erik Chapman, NHSG/UNHCE commercial fisheries specialist, spoke to the group about the myriad community collaborations involved in local seafood marketing. The N.H. Fresh and Local Seafood brand, the community supported fishery, off-the-boat sales, and new value-added seafood products are all efforts that help to bring awareness of and access to N.H. seafood and provide fishermen with a fair, stable price for their products.

Alves asked if those seafood marketing efforts could be scaled up for N.H. seafood to reach markets further away, perhaps in the Midwest. Chapman said it’s possible and cited Alaska seafood products as an example of locally branded seafood that is sold all over the world.

N.H. fisherman Erik Anderson asked Bullard and Alves how NOAA and NMFS might be able to help with local aquaculture efforts in more tangible ways. Bullard provided some suggestions for possible grant funding sources that fishermen could tap into. The Economic Development Administration offers loans and grants to communities and private businesses; this might be a good place to start when searching for funding to establish or retrofit a processing facility that can handle more N.H. seafood, he said. Money from the federal disaster declaration of the Northeast U.S. groundfish stocks could be tapped into to help out-of-work ground fishermen transition over to aquaculture, he added.

Some of the challenges faced by Great Bay oyster farmers, mussel longline aquaculturists andt he fishermen raising trout and kelp in pens in the Piscataqua River involve permitting issues in state-regulated waters. Bullard and Alves offered some suggestions and noted that they can help in the consultation process with permits in state waters, and have been working to streamline the federal side of this process. NOAA is also concentrating on the permitting process in federal waters - areas beyond three miles off the coast.

Bullard closed the discussion by noting the fiscal climate does not allow for funding of all the aquaculture needs in New England, but if fishermen think creatively, they can find opportunities for growth in aquaculture endeavors.

“We’re trying to build a case for aquaculture in an environment where aquaculture is sort of new,” Bullard said. “This is how we’re going to meet our goals.”

Above: Meeting attendees take a look at the steelhead trout aquaculture pens at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Local seafood makes a splash at Sustainable Seafood dinner at UNH

Last night, Wednesday April 16th, we had the pleasure of participating in UNH Dining's Sustainable Seafood dinner event. We had our outreach and educational materials on display and were right in the midst of the action (Check out our new Instagram to see some of the pictures of the event!) The event was part of UNH's 6-week pilot project to bring locally harvested seafood into their dining halls and exposing the students to several seasonally available species that they may not be familiar with.  David Hill, UNH Dining Assistant Director, Culinary Operations has stated that making more local seafood available to the students is a natural next step as part of UNH Dining's commitment to locally sourced foods*. Additionally, Hill says that bringing education to the students about our local fisheries is in keeping with the overarching education mission of UNH*.

UNH Dining in collaboration with NH Sea Grant, The Sustainability Institute and Slow Fish UNH, held the dinner at Holloway Commons and featured new and different menu items such as skate wing tacos, fried redfish, seafood ceviche, locally grown kelp, local scallops, oysters and lobster dishes.  Deb Scanlon, an Area Manager at Holloway Commons said that around 3100 students were served last night and that the feedback has been very positive.   

As part of the event, the Holloway Commons staff, NH Sea Grant and Slow Fish UNH helped to create, gather, and set up the "decor". One of the most popular decorations was the " Catch a Redfish" photo "set" which consisted of a giant cardboard cut-out of a redfish and fishing pole on a dock and students lined up to have their picture taken. NH Fresh and Local Seafood T-shirts were also featured throughout the dining hall; many of the servers and other staff members wore them and they looked great! It was a great way to spread the word about the NH Fresh and Local Seafood Brand. One of our local lobstermen, Damon Frampton out of Portsmouth, lent UNH Dining some lobster traps and buoys and even though we tried to get a real dinghy, the Holloway staff was creative and decided to just build their own! 

Several representatives from the fishing industry were also available for the event including fisherman David Goethel from the F/V Ellen Diane, Jared Auerbach from Red's Best- a Boston-based seafood processor , Padi Anderson from F/V Rimrack, NH Community Seafood and Ocean Approved Kelp. 

Finally, one of the most rewarding and significant moments of the event came when UNH President Mark Huddleston,  Jon Plodziak, Director of Dining-UNH Dining Services, and Executive Chef Chris Kaschak signed onto committing to the Slow Fish International Principles.

This is significant because UNH Dining has agreed to actively support the local fishing community by sourcing and serving local seafood to its students and guest as well as purchasing seasonally available local seafood. Even more significant, however, is the commitment that UNH Dining has made to negotiate prices that are mutually beneficial to our local fishing community and to UNH dining. This commitment could have significant consequences to our local fishing community as UNH is one of the largest food purchasers in the state. In fact, on a weekly basis in Holloway Commons alone- an average of 500 lbs of fish are purchased and served to students. If you combine that with the other two dining halls, you are looking at a potentially consistent, higher-value market for NH Fresh and Local Seafood for our local fishermen. Additionally, UNH Dining has also committed to providing education and awareness of local seafood to its guests which supports NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension's efforts in this area. Reaching this demographic can have far reaching effects on the the future of NH fisheries especially if they begin to demand more and more local seafood.

** All photos courtesy of G. Bradt, NH Sea Grant

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Revisiting the “Sea Grant Extension Exchange Program” with an Exchange between New Hampshire & Louisiana Sea Grant

One of the greatest things about being part of Sea Grant is that we are instantaneously a part of a nation-wide network where colleagues from all of the 33 Sea Grant programs can function as resources for one another.  But here is the reality- it is rare that we DO use each other as resources, mostly because we are focused on our work in our own states and regions and it is counter-intuitive to reach out to colleagues from across the country. It is also rare that we get to interact with each other in person on a regular basis- oh we have Sea Grant Week and Regional Sea Grant meetings and some of us have been lucky enough to go through Sea Grant Academy but how often do we really connect after these events are over?  The Sea Grant network in theory is a valuable resource IF we can tap into it and if we KNOW what is happening in each of our programs. 

With this in mind and as an example of what can happen when we get together at events such as Sea Grant Academy, a few of us newly minted Academy 2013 grads realized that we were doing similar programming and that it might be worthwhile to visit each other to learn more. Thus, over dinners and drinks Twyla Herrington, Alan Matherne  (both from Louisiana Sea Grant) and myself, thought the idea of a “Sea Grant Exchange” where Sea Grant agents from other programs would host each other for several days and have them see and participate in what they do in their daily Sea Grant jobs and in so doing see if any programming can be adaptable and implemented in their home programs.

Of course such ideas also need some financial backing which got us thinking about what it would entail to get it up and running which is still a big question and a hurdle.  However, as we continued to talk about other things such as direct marketing of seafood and our work with the fishing industry an idea came to mind that could make the first “exchange” plausible. Alan and others from Louisiana Sea Grant were putting together the second annual Louisiana Fisheries Summit in the Spring of 2014 and Twyla was organizing a Crab Workshop series around the same time. Both of these events were similar to things that I was thinking about in some form or other for New Hampshire (instead of crabs, lobsters) and I really thought it would be beneficial- even if I paid for it myself- to attend one or both of these events.  When I returned back to work, I spoke to my supervisor and other colleagues about this “exchange” and all said it would be a great opportunity but I would need to figure out a way to make it happen because there was no money for that sort of thing.

In November, Alan sent me a draft agenda of the Summit and suggested that perhaps I could contribute to the agenda by giving a talk or a poster to not only justify the trip but also to be an active participant.  We decided that some of my work dove-tailed nicely with the Direct Marketing of Seafood portions of the agenda and Alan invited me to give a presentation on “Professional Fisheries and Direct Marketing of Seafood- the East Coast Experience” and then invited Pete Granger from Washington Sea Grant to give a similar talk from the West Coast.

Now the only thing to do was to solve the question of how to fund this trip.  I would like to say that Sea Grant and UNH threw money at me and paid my way, but that is not what happened. Rather, I was lucky enough to have a little reserve fund that my supervisor said I could tap into if I thought this “exchange” was worth it and Twyla and I figured out places to stay that were free (read- family and friends and other colleagues). 

The entrance to Stella Plantation, Plaquemines Parish, LA
Fast forward to March 10th, 2014 and I am on a plane to New Orleans.  Twyla Herrington went above and beyond (in my opinion) as my LA SG guide and kept true to the spirit of the exchange.  Thanks to Twyla and her husband’s truck, I spent 5 amazing and truly valuable days as an honorary LA SG marine agent!  Twyla took me on all her daily duties, which included listening to some of her phone calls and requests from her stakeholders and fishermen. For example, I did not know that as Sea Grant agents, we could be called upon to find out information on bait types and prices, or that speaking to insurance providers was on our list of services. In addition, I got to tour her office at the LA AgCenter building in Belle Chasse, LA. Twyla covers Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, two of the parishes that were greatly affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and that have a large shrimping and crawfish fishing industry. I tagged along with Twyla and met some of her “clients” including an owner of an incredibly beautiful Plantation, Stella Plantation, which she works with because of her ecotourism programming. She took me to the shrimp docks and onto a boat that was being refitted into a charter boat and I got to hear plans about a lake being built on a farm so that crawfishing (as a venture into ecotourism) could occur. I also learned that her “people” really trust her and depend on her. They have her cell phone number (which pinged constantly with emails or texts) and they really do use her as the great resource that she is!

Crayfish pots 
Shrimp boat docks, Plaquemines Parish, LA
The Peruga- a shrimp boat being retro-fitted for ecotourism usage.

G. Bradt speaking at the Louisiana Fisheries Summit
 On Wednesday, March 12, we left New Orleans and drove a few hours southwest to Houma, LA to the convention center where the Fisheries Summit was being held for the next two days. What struck me the most about this event was the number of LA fishermen that attended, over 300 over the course of the two days and the number of Sea Grant agents as well as representative of LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).  Granted, I am comparing this to my small NH fisheries, but I was still impressed at the participation, especially from fishermen. The Summit itself was a wealth of information, a lot, obviously, was centered around LA specific  issues such as the state of the crab and shrimp industries and much was centered on direct marketing of Louisiana seafood. But there were also sessions about seafood safety and handling, vessel safety, gear and refrigeration just to name a few. In addition, there was a small trade show featuring the US Coast Guard, Banks, LDWF and direct marketing efforts such as Louisiana Seafood. 

The Summit for me was a great learning experience especially with regard to direct marketing and ecotourism  but more importantly it was a chance to talk  and meet other members of the Gulf seafood industry and fellow Sea Grant colleagues such as Julie Anderson whom I have worked with on marine debris issues, Pete Granger (WA SG), John Bell, John Supan (aka “Sup”), Julie Falgout, Thu Bui, Carol Franze, Lauren Land and Thomas Hymel. It was great hearing about their work and how they have tackled similar issues in Louisiana as my colleagues and I are encountering here in New Hampshire. It was really exciting to know that our network, really truly is a rich resource for all of us. I can now say, that I am comfortable picking up the telephone and calling these fellow Sea Grant agents if I have questions or just referring them to other people, because I now have an idea of what they can offer both in knowledge and experience.  

Fellow Sea Granters, Lauren Land and Twyla Herrington
After the Summit, Twyla and I headed south to Grand Isle to visit John Supan who is the director of the Sea Grant Oyster Hatchery and got a full tour of the operation down there –although it was shut down for the season and hadn’t started back up.  It was a beautiful location and talking with “Sup” made me start thinking about another version of the “exchange” which would involve spending a week on Grand Isle learning the tools of the oyster culture trade from one of the best in the field and would be “Professional Development Camp” for Sea Grant!

Entrance to Grand Isle, LA
John Supan, Director of the LASG Oyster Hatchery and Twyla Herrington

Oyster grow out cages
The LASG Oyster Hatchery residence, Grand Isle, LA.

All in all, I came back to New Hampshire with a head full of ideas and resources and potential additions to our program, new friends, contacts and potential collaborators in the future. This was exactly what we hoped this exchange would do and I am looking forward to hosting LA Sea Grant as the next leg of the “exchange”. It is our hope that this will garner some well-deserved publicity and backing from Sea Grant and that it becomes a formalized opportunity for other Sea Grant agents to take advantage of.

You can read a story about this exchange program. 

- Dr. Gabby Bradt
Fisheries Extension Specialist, NH Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension