WDC51: Advancing Aquatic Food Product Sustainability: Improving Quality, Utilization and Safety

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

WDC51: Advancing Aquatic Food Product Sustainability: Improving Quality, Utilization and Safety

Duration: 10/01/2020 to 09/30/2022

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Each year, the US lands about 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish with an ex-vessel value of $5.4B. In addition, US aquaculture producers annually harvest 633.5 million pounds of fish and shellfish worth $1.45B.  The value of edible and non-edible products was $12 billion. The total import value was $38.4 billion. (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2018). The US aquatic food product sector is small compared to agriculture, industrial, and service sectors. Many aquatic derived food harvesters and processors are small to mid-sized when compared to their terrestrial counterparts.  Like other US food sectors, the aquatic derived food distribution channels are global and dominated by a few large companies that buy unprocessed product from large numbers of small to moderate scale fishermen and aquaculturists. However this sector is an important economic base for many rural coastal communities and is an important source of employment and earnings in many large coastal cities.

Current direction and leadership in aquatic derived foods is scattered amongst many federal agencies. The plethora of players prevents our nation from developing clear leadership and direction when it comes to technology and innovation that supports the sustainable processing of aquatic derived foods. While the USDA has a long history of working with farmers and meat and dairy producers and processors to improve yields, enhance product quality, assure food safety, and to foster cooperative research and market development, its mission has not been as focused on promoting aquatic derived foods.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has responsibility for promoting fisheries in the narrow terms of sustainable harvest and therefore largely focuses on assessment of fish populations and accounting for catches. Aquatic derived food product processing innovation has fallen through this gap in agency mission and has not benefited from the level of industry-university research cooperation that has so ably served other food sectors. The aim of this development committee is to begin to change this paradigm through coordinated research and education efforts among committee members.

It is estimated that 1/3 to 1/2 of all food produced is wasted. Over all food losses in the USA amount to $90-100 billion a year, of which $48.3 billion is thrown away directly by the consumer (Parfitt et al, 2010). When food production outpaces food consumption, it is easy to ignore the waste created by inefficiencies in harvest, processing and cold-chain systems. However, future projected limitations in food resources by 2050 demand these kind of attitudes change (Silva 2018). Our ability to sustainably use both terrestrial and aquatic derived foods will be crucial to meeting global population food needs. Many of the US terrestrial agriculture food systems have benefited from productive multistate partnerships in research and education focused on improving the productivity, efficiency, safety and sustainability of terrestrial food systems. The success of these partnerships is evidenced by the U.S.’s preeminence in growing and processing terrestrial food systems. Can we say the same for aquatic food systems? Unequivocally, the answer is no. We are already living with the consequences of this as the U.S. imports nearly 90% of its aquatic derived foods (GAO 2011). The U.S. government advises doubling seafood consumption for health reasons (2011 Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans). Meanwhile, it is estimated that nearly half of the U.S. aquatic food supply is wasted across the supply chain. As we try to change these statistics by enhancing the amount of aquatic foods we produce, we need to also focus on improving our stewardship in terms of sustainable utilization.  The U.S. has directed significant resources in terms of re-building wild fish stocks through hatchery management systems, assessing wild populations to support fishery management decisions and developing and enhancing fish farming systems. It has also directed significant resources to understanding and protecting all of our aquatic ecosystems. It has not, however, directed resources at insuring that foods derived from these very same aquatic systems, are harvested, processed and distributed to maximize sustainable utilization.

The vision for this multistate proposal is to accelerate the flow of information and pace of innovation to address the science and engineering challenges that limit the competitiveness of the U.S. seafood and aquaculture industries.  This multistate development committee will produce the knowledge-based outcomes that will catalyze innovation and provide key stakeholders with the solutions needed to stay ahead of an ever changing, complex, and challenging global food environment. It will be a place where scientists from industry, government, and academia can work collaboratively to identify and address critical and emerging issues encompassing quality, utilization and safety of aquatic derived foods.

Related Current and Previous Work

This is the first attempt to develop a multistate coordinated effort for Advancing Aquatic Food Product Sustainability.  A review of NIMSS demonstrates there are no projects focused on innovation and sustainability for post-harvest aquatic derived foods systems.  A review of projects in CRIS finds many individual projects from both HATCH and Grants that encompass everything from aquaculture potential, economic and marketing feasibility evaluations, post-harvest sustainable utilization, innovation and food safety.  CRIS Hatch Projects related to this effort in particular include one from the University of Maine that is focused on Advancing Sustainable Seafood Technologies (ME021920).  This project is focused on trying develop systems for seaweeds, a new product in which production and processing systems in the U.S. are still in the developmental stage.  Evaluation of non-thermal processing for sous-vide products, and creating value from crustacean waste shell.  There is also a project focused on post-harvest technology of foods which includes aquatic foods from Mississippi State University (MIS-081710).  Washington State University (WNP00004) has a project focused on developing processing, safety, quality and supply solutions for production of high quality and safe foods.  Aquatic foods is also a component of this effort.  Louisiana State University has a project (LAB94368) Louisiana Seafood Industry, Co-Products Recovery, and Under Utilized Species Promotion.  AFRI grants related to this project include Value-added Utilization of Catfish By-Product (MIS-371860) from Mississippi State University; Optimizing Aquaponic Production using and Integrated Systems Approach (NH.W-2017-06754) from New Hampshire; Reducing resource use at the seafood-energy-water nexus: focus on efficient production and waste reduction (MD.W-2017-07653) from Johns Hopkins University; Machine Vision Robotic Systems for Automated Disassembling Crab Complex Compartments and Extracting Meats Extent Able to Large Scale Food and Post-Harvest Processing (MD-BIOE-08145) from University of Maryland.  In the realm of improving safety of aquatic derived products projects include Increasing Food Safety of Raw Oysters with a Simple and Rapid Post-Harvest Treatment Utilizing Probiotics (ORE00339) from Oregon State University and Development of Bio-Enabled Nano-Plasmonic Sensing Technology for Rapid Detection of Histamine and Aquaculture Drugs in Seafood (ORE00282) from Oregon State University.


  1. Provide a forum for the communication and coordination of cooperative efforts in sustainable aquatic-derived food systems research, extension and education in the United States through an annual meeting.
  2. Enhance cooperative research among committee members and their respective states, thereby achieving maximum efficiency, through the exchange of ideas and methodologies, communication via the internet, and the publication of appropriate research and extension materials.
  3. Coordinate Extension programs for aquatic derived food systems that will provide research results to harvesters (both wild and farmed) via publications, workshops/trainings/schools, and the internet.

Procedures and Activities

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Research, extension, and teaching members involved with the committee will communicate with and invite participation by scientist in USDA and private industry.


The Chairman is elected at the annual meeting and serves the following year. This person serves as a liaison with the Administrative Advisor to see that all required annual reports are submitted to the office of the Executive Director, Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. The Chairman directs the activities of the Committee and makes sure that the objectives of the committee are fulfilled. The following year’s meeting of the committee usually is at the home base of the Chairmen, who then also serves as local arrangements chair. Minutes of the meeting, state reports, and information about the activities are posted on the Committee’s website (http://seafood.oregonstate.edu). Meetings normally alternate among participant states, although alternate sites are sometimes selected to expand committee perspectives and impacts.

Literature Cited

GAO. 2011. Seafood Safety:FDA needs to improve oversight of imported seafood and better leverage limited resources. GAO-11-286. Published April 14, 2011.

National Marine Fisheries Service (2018) Fisheries of the United States, 2017. U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Current Fishery Statistics No. 2017 Available at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/ fisheries-united-states-2017

Parfitt, J., Barthel, M., & Macnaughton, S. (2010). Food waste within food supply chains: quantification and potential for change to 2050. Philosophical transactions of the royal society B: biological sciences, 365(1554), 3065-3081.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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