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Seafood Industry Research Fund 

A 501(c)3 organization established in 1964

Russ Mentzer
Dear Seafood Industry Professional,

Welcome to the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) newsletter! Here you can find quarterly updates on SIRF's activities, current research and funding information. Through your generous support, SIRF provides the seafood community with scientific studies that further business and improve the bottom line. Read in this newsletter how SIRF is linking industry and academia with articles on  EMS Research, Seafood Environmental Impact, Shelf Life Research and the SIRF

We could not fund exciting research without your support. Thank you for your continued contributions. To view past SIRF sponsored research, please visit  and contact us with any questions you may have
Russ Mentzer, Chairman
Seafood Industry Research Fund
Current Events
EMS Research
Between 2009 and 2014 the shrimp segments of the seafood industry experienced significant economic disruption due to  Early Mortality Syndrome. 

Shrimp Ponds, FAO

In January of 2009, just before the shrimp disease outbreak, the price of 41/50 RP&D was $3.65 per pound. Ib. By the third quarter of 2013 the price had increased 89% to $6.90. The high price of shrimp reduced the promotion and sale of the most popular seafood in restaurants with some restaurants removing shrimp from their menus. The effect of these rapidly escalating shrimp prices, at the same time consumers  were experiencing the effects of the economic down turn, caused shrimp consumption to plummet 12% to 3.6 lbs. per person. With annual imports of shrimp averaging near 1.0 billion pounds, the economic effect of the disease rose to the billions of dollars in the five ensuing years.

Teamed up with the Global Aquaculture Alliance and the World Bank, SIRF provided funding to deploy scientists into Asia to gather information on possible causes of EMS. The deployment of these resources, the data, and their analysis, provided methods to mitigate the impact of the disease driving production to pre-epidemic levels.
"While SIRF was pleased to have played a role in resolving this problem, the SIRF Board reflected on the recent outbreak and set goals to be faster responders to future outbreaks of disease," said SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer. "We know that prevention is the best and lowest cost solution. Accordingly, we have embarked on a program of investigating disease prevention methods in aquaculture which are an alternative to antibiotics." In light of the enhancing effect probiotics has on disease resistance, Dr. Indu Sharma PhD., of Hampton University will investigate the quality of commercial aquaculture probiotics, including measuring the accuracy of microbial compositions, the viable densities of the microbes, and the in vitro inhibitory activity towards common pathogens.
"Of genuine value to the seafood industry are investigations that lead producers away from using antibiotics in farmed seafood and feed.  Probiotics are viewed as environmentally friendly alternatives to antibiotics.  This rather extensive study launches SIRF on a program in probiotic prevention of disease. SIRF operates with a commitment to transparency. We will share our findings and data with other researchers in an effort to maximize the benefit to our industry and to research as efficiently as possible. This is a research race to prevent the next inevitable disease," Mentzer said."  
SIRF Funds Research on Environmental Impact of Seafood  
Constant challenges, that's the seafood industry. Disease, regulation, trade and tariff issues, labeling changes, traceability, IUU, and supply to mention just a few. Now some consumers are advocating for their environmental concerns. 

Consumers are expressing their concerns in communications with major retailers and restaurants, increased purchases of organic foods, local farm sourcing, CSA's, and strong preferences in seafood. Organic food consumption has increased from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $39 billion 2014 or 5% of the total grocery market. In a recent survey of US consumers, 71% said they consider environmental concerns when they shop. Two-thirds of respondents said they avoid specific brands or products due to their environmental factors.
With environmental groups examining the impact of the seafood industry both wild and farmed, the industry needs to make sure its practices are being examined scientifically.  

Dr. Ray Hilborn, the University of Washington

SIRF has sponsored research through Dr. Ray Hilborn from the University of Washington, and Dr. Peter Tyedmers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, to investigate and report on the environmental impact of seafood (wild and farmed) compared to other proteins and major food groups. Dr. Hilborn is well-known for working collaboratively with other scientists to effectively communicate their findings.  

Dr. Peter Tyedmers,Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia
Dr. Tyedmers is the leading researcher on seafood life-cycle analyses, looking at the impacts of seafood on carbon, energy uses, water, and antibiotics.

"The benefit to the seafood community of a comprehensive analysis of water, energy, carbon, food miles, nutrient loading, antibiotics, and other environmental impacts, when compared to other major food groups, is likely to generate a positive positioning for seafood, both farmed and wild," said SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer.  "Seafood companies can use this information to help explain another relative and relevant benefit of seafood when talking with their customers.  
SIRF's mission is to sponsor research improving the commercial success of companies engaged in all aspects of the seafood business. Our focus is on investigations with immediate and practical application to the industry.
SIRF Researches Seafood Shelf Life 
SIRF selects projects for research funding  from many sources, weighing a broad spectrum of ideas and suggestions . 

"SIRF maintains a very close relationship with the NFI Executive Committee and is aware of the priorities and primary issues impacting the industry," said SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer. " In addition SIRF Directors are active members and leaders not only managing major seafood companies, but serving as officers of NFI committees and attending seafood conferences globally. For all of the knowledge and awareness of these industry leaders, sometimes the ideas come from surprising places."
During a meeting between an employee and his manager at one of SIRF's Director's companies, the subject of product shelf life came up in conversation, based on a request from one of their customers. SIRF does not conduct research for any one company; however, the request initiated an investigation into the length of time that has passed since shelf life studies have been conducted on a wide range of seafood species. 

The investigation found that it has been more than 30 years since there was industry sponsored research on shelf life. In those 30 plus years, wild catch technology has changed with the use of catcher/processor vessels. Freezing technology has improved, elapsed time from catch to processing has been reduced. In aquaculture harvesting, speed to processing, handling practices and freezing technology have all changed and improved. It is definitely time for the industry to undertake shelf life studies that will benefit our customers and our companies.
To conduct this research SIRF engaged The National Food Lab out of Livermore, CA. NFL is a testing firm with over 36 years of experience in food safety, quality, process development, and consumer and sensory research. The project is to validate the shelf life of eleven different frozen seafood species or packaging including Alaska pollock, tilapia, catfish (Ictalurus), vacuum packed sockeye salmon, vacuum packed grouper, tail on shrimp (raw and cooked), cooked lobster (wet and dry), frozen squid, and Atlantic salmon. 

Due to shelf life time requirements, this project is projected to be completed in early 2018. The potential for studying additional species will depend on the acceptance and use of the research after publication. If the industry uses the data, the SIRF board will be open to considering other major seafood species. 
In January, SIRF held its third annual soirée during the Global Seafood Market Conference in Miami, Florida. At the Oceanaire Seafood Room, the SIRF board hosted industry leaders for an evening dedicated to seafood research and sponsorship.

Themed to highlight the global nature of seafood, the event treated guests to a menu of branzino, cobia and stone crab sourced from the world over. Throughout the evening, SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer highlighted the organization's research in EMS, seafood economic analysis and food waste.

Attendees at SIRF Dinner

"For the third year in a row, SIRF has been able to draw seafood decision makers together to advance our industry," said Mentzer. "We have a lot to celebrate at the Soirée. Our business has entered into an exciting era of innovation. Coming with this innovation, however, is work to be done. We need to anticipate tomorrow's problems and create solutions before they are needed for the good of seafood."

Guests were encouraged to support SIRF's seafood study mission by contributing to the newly created memorial fund honoring former NFI Chairman Ken Conrad.

Dr. Daniel Benetti, University of Miami

The evening's program featured Dr. Daniel Benetti, Professor and Director of Aquaculture at the University of Miami. Leading a renowned aquaculture program, Dr. Benetti spoke on aquaculture's future and its vital role in feeding growing populations.

"Aquaculture already produces some of the most consumed seafood items," Benetti said. "This list will continue to grow to include mahi-mahi, tuna and flounder as the industry's capabilities expand and seafood demand increases."

Issue Date


Quarter 1 2016

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Marshall "Ken" Conrad Memorial Fund

In December 2015, the seafood community lost Marshall "Ken" Conrad. 

Ken  served as  Chairman  of the  National Fisheries Institute  in 2010 and also served on the  Board of Directors  of the  National Restaurant Association , where he was  Vice Chairman and Treasurer  before  ascending to the Chairman's position in 2014

SIRF has established the Marshall "Ken" Conrad Memorial Fund to honor his contributions to the seafood industry.

To donate to the Marshall "Ken" Conrad Memorial Fund, click here.
Wally Stevens Perpetual Fund

Wally Stevens has guided the seafood industry as an NFI Chairman, GAA Executive Director and SIRF contributor. SIRF established the Wally Stevens Perpetual Fund to honor his long-serving commitment to the seafood community.

To donate to the Wally Stevens Perpetual Fund click here.
More About Donations

SIRF's research and operating funds come entirely from generous donations made by individuals and corporations who support our mission of sponsoring scientific research of immediate and practical use by the seafood industry. Visit our website for details about open funds and information about making donations.  




About SIRF


The Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) was established in 1964 and was originally named the Fisheries Scholarship Fund. It is a tax exempt, philanthropic, educational organization.  


SIRF is supported entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals and companies in and related to the seafood industry.


Click here to learn more about how the fund supports research of interest to the seafood industry.   


We appreciate the opportunity to share information about SIRF, our research funds and projects and thank you for your support!

SIRF Board of Directors

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