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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 first quarter Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) newsletter! In 2016 SIRF completed exciting research projects. In 2017 SIRF continues to commit funds to projects that have a major impact on our industry including the Brandeis University's work on handheld, rapid DNA testing for species identification. This project has far reaching economic impact in its potential to provide rapid identification of species. When deployed through the supply chain, the technology will ensure accurate labeling and eliminate mislabeling of fish. Another new project from Rhode Island University endeavors to identify effective strategies for countering  labor challenges in Ghana.
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 Research & Funding
SIRF Funds Research Focused on Reducing Labor Challenges in Ghana 
The Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) is supporting research, through the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, to help evaluate the effectiveness of efforts designed to combat human trafficking and prevent potential labor abuses in Ghana's seafood sector.

Kristine Beran at the University of Rhode Island will be the leading SIRF-sponsored labor research

Tremendous advancements in this field have been made globally in recent years, but there is still work to be done. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Sustainable Fisheries Management Project, has initiated activities to address and reduce child-labor and trafficking in Ghana. The SIRF-supported venture is a complementary effort.
Adoption of sustainable fishing practices, effective communications, and social actions by local stakeholders may lead to fundamental changes in behavior. These changes are designed to focus on making  child-labor and trafficking practices unacceptable in these communities. Additionally, increasing the value of fisheries products by teaching practices like smoking, in the absence of refrigeration, may produce better economic opportunities and food security for the areas where the programs are implemented.
When asked about the location of the research project, Russ Mentzer, SIRF Chairman, said, "While Ghana may not be a major supplier of seafood to the U.S. market, we felt this novel approach of working directly in these communities might produce a strategy that is transferable and could produce positive benefits globally."
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and its member companies work collectively with seafood suppliers and foreign governments to identify labor challenges and eliminate them from the supply chain. With seafood being one of the most traded commodities, labor is a relevant and important part of sourcing discussions in the industry. 

Kristine Beran, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rhode Island is the principal investigator on the project. Kristine will be deploying to Ghana in June of 2017 to begin this research.          
Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund Continues Fundraising
Established at the end of 2016, the Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund has raised over $72,400 in pledges and contributions. Buoyed by industry support and SIRF fundraising events, the fund quickly met and surpassed donation goals. 

"The rapid success of the Mark Leslie fund is a testament to the strong relationships Mark has formed over his 25 years in seafood," said SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer. "The fund's outpouring of pledges confirms Mark's influence on the industry and is a resounding affirmation of his leadership." 

The fund honors Mr. Leslie's contributions to the seafood industry during his time as Vice President for Business Development for High Liner Foods and board member of the Better Seafood Board. 

SIRF will keep the  Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund open to allow for continued support from friends and colleagues.

To donate to the Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund click  here.
Gorton Cup Nets Win for Seafood Research
On March 20th, the Gorton Cup was held at Harvard University's hockey rink in Cambridge, Massachusetts between teams NFI and Seafax. The longstanding, friendly rivalry, occurring during the Seafood Expo North America, pitted seafood professionals against each other in a match of stick skills to benefit seafood research.

Mark Leslie, namesake of the Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund, was on hand along with his wife and four daughters to drop the first puck. Cheering on the players, 50 fans and SIRF supporters mingled rink-side at an in-door tailgate party.
Team Seafax, led by Jim Bonnvie (Seafax) came out strong, taking an early 4-1 lead over NFI. However, NFI posted an impressive comeback, answering Seafax with three consecutive goals. Undeterred, Seafax soon put another puck into the back of NFI's net taking control of the game with thirty seconds left.

NFI employed a last-ditch strategy by pulling their goalie, adding another skater to the offense. The gamble paid off, and NFI scored tying the game as time ran out.
While nearly all players and two referees agreed to end the game in a draw, Mike Gorton (Slade Gorton & Company), 83, insisted that the game go into sudden-death overtime.

The game continued in a four on four format. Three minutes into overtime, Joel Harvey of Bellingham Cold Storage scored on a tip-in goal, winning the Gorton Cup for Team Seafax.
The game's standout performances belonged to Andy Mecs (StarKist) who had two goals and Adam Rousseau (Bristol Seafood) who claimed two goals and assisted on the game winning point in overtime.

Donations collected from the hockey game went towards the Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund which has raised so far $72,400 in pledges and contributions for SIRF. 

For a complete gallery of Gorton Cup photos taken by Gail Hannagan  of Preferred Freezer Services click on the link
SIRF Scores with Soirée Number Four
In January, the Seafood Industry Research Fund held the fourth installment of what has become a celebrated industry event, the SIRF Soirée. Occurring during the National Fisheries Institute's Global Seafood Market Conference, the annual benefit dinner took place at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Over one-hundred of seafood's foremost leaders gathered for an evening of fine-dining to raise funds for seafood-focused studies with donations going to the Mark D. Leslie Living Tribute Fund.

Attendees learned first-hand of SIRF's work from the scientists and researchers conducting sponsored projects through video testimonials. Showcasing ongoing research in disease, nutrition and DNA testing, SIRF promoted itself as a forward-thinking organization seeking to understand and improve issues affecting the seafood business.

"Seafood keeps us on our toes," said Chairman Russ Mentzer. "SIRF has been funding research for over forty years and the landscape of concern that companies face in matters of supply, quality and consumption shifts every day. To stay current, SIRF keeps an interest in seafood's immediate reality as well as its horizons."

Emphasizing the seafood research group's focus on the future, the evening's program centered on environmental impact.  Dr. Ray Hilborn, Marine Biologist and Fisheries Scientist with the University of Washington, addressed Soirée attendees on his SIRF-sponsored research measuring the carbon footprint of major proteins.

"Compared to chicken, beef and pork, seafood treads lightly," Hilborn said. "With its low use of resources in production, seafood presents itself as a prime protein for consumers concerned about the environmental upshot of their purchasing decisions. This is a story worth championing just as much as seafood's nutritional benefits."

Issue Date


Quarter 1 2017

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Wally Stevens Future Leader 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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