[NOTE: This was originally written as a grant proposal to the National Sea Grant Program. It provides an overview of our vision of the project as well as a description of the problems facing the seafood processing industry vis vis its information needs. Janet Webster, 4/20/2001]
Edward Kolbe, Professor and Extension Engineering Specialist; Oregon State University
Janet Webster, Assistant Professor and HMSC Head Librarian; Oregon State University
Brian Paust, Professor and Extension Marine Advisor, University of Alaska
Reduced emphasis on seafood technology research and development is creating a gap in access to information for those who remain active in the processing industry and in related research laboratories and agencies. Major laboratory closures and reductions over the past 20 years precipitate the loss of an experienced research and outreach workforce, the failure to hire and train replacements, the closures of technology libraries, dilution of specialized publications, and the ultimate loss of technical information that was never published in readily accessible journals. Loss of expertise is exemplified by the past or imminent retirements of Sea Grant seafood specialists in all three west coast states and Alaska.
In the face of this marked reduction in effort and expertise, the information needs of the industry only increase. Leading the way are issues of food safety and the design of HACCP programs. Waste utilization, management of plant effluents, energy conservation and productivity, all represent increasing pressures. Needs relate to value-added process opportunities to address changing international markets and demand for quality, limitations in fish stocks, and development of underutilized species. Native village groups seek information to support their growing interests in seafood process development. The research community in universities and agencies experience similar needs in all of these same areas.
Much of the needed information exists. Some is published; some is the unpublished, "gray" literature that is fast disappearing. Our recent efforts using Web search engines and food technology indices reveal significant problems identifying documents, when we know these documents to exist. Then, once a document is identified, getting a copy often becomes no less of a challenge. The urgent need for a regional effort to build and maintain a complete and accessible collection is clear. A recent questionnaire mailed to over 75 seafood technologists in regional companies, agencies, and universities, presented the idea of such a collection. Of the 45 who responded, all were highly supportive of the concept. Half additionally offered to donate personal libraries or documents upon retirement.
As the result of such demonstrated regional interest and of the critical need to salvage collections, we prepared a proposal in Spring, 1999, sent to well over 20 regional processing companies, industry associations, state and federal agencies. Grants and gifts are just now being received and committed to enable a Summer 1999 start of a process that will:
The Phase I planning, to include appointment of a 7-member industry/university/agency Steering Committee, will build a foundation for the one-year project proposed here. This proposal to the Sea Grant Technology program would begin in April, 2000 with the following objectives: 1) Develop a structure for managing the collection as planned in Phase I; 2) Actively collect, review, and index materials from private libraries, agency archives, and industry files; 3) Conduct library services; 4) Develop and deliver regional access training.
This collection would be focused on seafood science and engineering. Aquaculture would relate through collections which address processing, utilization, shelf life, and food safety. The location would be the library at Oregon State Universitys Hatfield Marine Science Center (Newport) due to local expertise, infrastructure, and institutional commitment. The collection would be accessible via the Internet and through partnerships with other libraries such as the University of Washington, National Marine Fisheries Service/Northwest Fisheries Science Center, University of California/Davis, and the Sea Grant Depository in Rhode Island.
This Sea Grant project would support activity of a half-time professional Library Technician, involvement of a Web technology specialist, purchase of scanning and computer equipment, funding of travel and of information resources at OSU and partner libraries. The PIs would actively identify, collect, and catalog collections in jeopardy. A steering committee representing industry, agencies, and academia would advise the collection managers on collection and loan policies, specific projects, and general focus. The collections staff would maintain published and unpublished materials, develop a Web-based gateway to this collection, conduct an active educational program for users in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, maintain links with regional library partners, and distribute materials on request.
This one-year project would deliver the following: saved/cataloged/indexed seafood technology literature that would otherwise be lost; strengthened published works and electronic indexes; a Web-based search system; an active Steering Committee; training materials for accessing the collection and a minimum of ten training seminars/workshops.
The process of building and managing this collection, and the active involvement of an industry/university/agency steering committee would generate the kinds of benefits sought by the Sea Grant Technology Program: a transfer of technology, both current and past, to users in the industry; a resulting enhancement of industry's competitiveness; an involvement of industry, academic, and government partners, as focused by the Steering Committee; a wise use of marine resources, including the products of aquaculture; the mechanism, through Steering Committee action and training sessions, to enable industry to influence Sea Grant and other university research and Extension priorities.
Reduced emphasis on seafood technology research and development is creating a gap in access to information for those who remain active in the processing industry and in related research laboratories and agencies. The gap is becoming critical as food safety and economic development issues arise. The seafood industry, its research community, and management agencies need access to current information as well as past research. Both are problematic due to the demise of research and development laboratories, disappearing expertise, and discarded or lost documents.
Much of the seafood technology research and development performed worldwide in the last 50 years occurred in labs that have been greatly reduced in scope or that no longer exist. Examples on the West Coast include: the Utilization Research Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS); the Vancouver Seafood Technology Lab of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada; BC Research/Fisheries Technology Division; University of Washington Institute of Food Science; and the University of California/Davis Institute of Marine Resources Seafood Lab. Similar closures of NMFS and Fisheries Research Board of Canada facilities occurred on the east coast in Gloucester and Halifax.
These laboratory closures and reductions precipitate the loss of an experienced research and outreach workforce, the failure to find and train replacements, the closures of technology libraries, dilution of specialized publications, and the ultimate loss of technical information that was never published in readily accessible journals. The imminent retirements of seafood technology Extension Specialists on the West Coast and Alaska exacerbates the loss of expertise. In all four west coast states, Sea Grant Seafood Technology Extension Specialist positions are either unfilled or will be up for review due to retirements within the next three years.
In the face of this marked reduction in effort and expertise, we see a rise in the critical information needs of the industry. Leading the way are issues of food safety and the design of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) programs to address FDA-monitored seafood safety practices.
The industry additionally seeks value-added processing opportunities to address changing international markets, continuing demands for quality, diminishing volumes of traditional species, and new products from previously underutilized species. One example of the last issue is Oregons Developmental Fisheries Program which has provided some support for the catching and management of previously non-targeted species (ODFW, 1995). A second is the Magnusen-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act amendment of 1996 which discusses "full retention and utilization" of harvest in the North Pacific. A 1998 change required the retention and use of all Pollock and Pacific cod captured, regardless of targeting or size; and in 2003, three flatfish species will be added to that requirement. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is currently considering an additional requirement that bycatch be used only for products suitable for human consumption -- i.e. products other than fish meal (DiCosimo, 1999).
Other industry issues require engineering and water quality data and design documentation to address future EPA and state DEQ regulations on effluent discharge. Energy costs and market-driven conservation pressures describe a need for engineering guidelines on operations common among seafood processors, for example refrigeration, cold storage, freezing, pasteurization, retorting, and pneumatics. Information, and continuing research, are needed to adequately address all of these issues.
Research scientists and students in university and government laboratories have many of the same needs as industry. They also seek a clear understanding of past work to avoid dead-ends and mistakes and to maximize their chance for success. Such knowledge of past work is especially important for technologies that were once seen as economically infeasible, but now have new value in a radically changed environment. One example is the current utilization of Pacific whiting. Fifteen years ago, it was discarded by U.S. fishermen as a nuisance. It now is the raw material for a $40 million industry (Larkin and Sylvia, 1999). Other examples in seafood industry engineering include those relating to energy usage, waste utilization, and line productivity. Some of the past work documenting these examples are only available as unpublished reports.
Government agencies shaping regulations and services that have an impact on the industry seek timely access to information. A prime example is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration whose stewardship of the HACCP seafood safety program requires a complete knowledge of critical research results. Some of these, unfortunately, are not readily available in the published literature.
A final example of information access needs lies with the native village groups, many of which are based in Western Alaska. The advent of the CDQ (Community Development Quota) program has supported development of fisheries and process industries in new regions (BSFA, 1996). In many cases, individual tribes or villages have gained access to funds supporting equipment, storage and marketing efforts. Information to guide a successful development of these efforts is essential.
The need for seafood technology information is clear. And much of the information exists. However, the access to such information is problematic, inconsistent across the industry, and highly dependant on local resources of individual companies, agencies, or universities. Some universities and research centers in the region maintain core collections consisting of current research journals and books as well as trade journals, government and industry reports. These include University of Washington, NMFS/Seattle, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis. Unfortunately, those are in jeopardy due to the escalating cost of materials and a decline in research activity, a problem highlighted in several of the attached letters. (See Proposal section: "Letters of Commitment and Support")
The Internet provides some increased access, one excellent example of which is in the area of HACCP information. The Seafood Network Information Center, a Sea Grant-funded project at the University of California/Davis, is posting bulletins and reports in a coherent manner. The Sea Grant Depository, located at the University of Rhode Island, is also mounting selected material on its web site. (Its focus is only on Sea Grant-supported documents, however, as explained in the attached letter from Director E. Uhlinger). The Internet is not a panacea. Finding even existing material on the Web is still problematic as evidenced by the efforts of a moderately sophisticated searcher looking up HACCP; 57,000 hits were found, and few of those examined were relevant. The Web has great potential as an access tool and storage mechanism, but it is lacking in cohesion. It does not solve the problem of an engineer looking for specific information on waste water effluent from seafood processing plants.
Access also implies both the existence of the needed information and its listing in an appropriate index. A good deal of the older seafood technology information is not included in existing indices, catalogues, or publicly accessible collections. There is great variation in search success depending on the tool a researcher chooses to use or is forced to use. One example is looking for information on waste water and seafood processing. The index, Food Science and Technology Abstracts, revealed just 14 references, while Web search engines found nothing. For such topics, there usually is additional available information which has not been added to a library collection and thus catalogued, or has not been properly indexed in one of the standard tools. Identifying, collecting, and listing this gray literature are important tasks to facilitate access.
Finally, even if a lead to information is found on the Web or on a good electronic index, getting the actual document remains a problem. A better delivery system, including the availability of full text on the Web, when possible, and photocopies when not, could be developed. A collection housed within an active library provides a mechanism for storing the information, developing access tools that are long lived, and delivering information in cost-effective ways.
In late 1998, letters and a questionnaire were designed to briefly describe a regional collection concept as outlined in this proposal and to solicit opinion and advice. These materials were mailed to over 75 seafood technologists and administrators on the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, and British Columbia. Recipients, many of whom are or have been affiliated with the Pacific Fisheries Technologists organization, were tied to industry, agencies, and universities. Over 45 responses provided valuable ideas on the operation of a proposed regional collection, advice concerning its location, suggestions for members of a steering committee and consulting advisors. Half of these responses were from retired or near-retired technologists and included offers to donate unpublished reports or difficult-to-find series' from private files. All who responded endorsed the general concept defining this collection. A presentation of the concept, made at the February 1999 Pacific Fisheries Technologists Annual Meeting, elicited a discussion that was highly supportive.
As a result of this interest and endorsement of need, we prepared a Planning Phase proposal in March, 1999. This requested small grants and gifts from agencies, large seafood processing companies, and industry associations primarily in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Its objectives are to collect and store materials in jeopardy, to plan the collection and access procedures with a created steering committee, and to train industry technologists to use current access options. Although still early, response to date has been positive. Two Washington-based seafood processors have donated gifts totaling $4,500; state and federal agencies as well as an Alaska processors' association have indicated another possible $22,000 in gifts and grants. We have yet to hear from 15 others.
Letters were recently requested in support of the current proposal, and these are attached in a separate section entitled "Letters of Commitments and Support". They further demonstrate need on the part of industry, agencies, and universities; they also describe the kinds of connections and partnerships such an active collection would foster among all of these sectors:
The production and processing of safe, wholesome, and competitively priced seafood by our processing industry must continue. However, its current development proceeds under growing government guidelines and regulations and with a diminishing level of government support for research, outreach education, and information access. There is a clear need for a regional collection of information that will support the best utilization of our harvested, as well as aquaculture-reared seafood resources. Existing models for information storage and dissemination must be expanded and linked. The development of the Internet and other emerging technologies enable such a regional collection to make its resources and services accessible to all.
It is our plan to create and manage a regional collection on a continuing basis. This effort would have the following long-term objectives:
To address these long-term objectives, we have begun a process of planning, with funding from regional industry and agencies. This "Phase I" project, to commence in July 1999, will also seek to identify and retrieve private collections which could be lost without immediate attention. The early positive response indicates that this 6-12 month effort will proceed.
As planning and collaborative arrangements begin to create a supporting structure, we will seek a longer-term funding strategy for the management of this regional collection.
Between these two program phases, however, lies a one-year project for which funding is requested from the Sea Grant Technology Program. As outlined in the following "Short-Term Objectives", it would establish the foundation of a regional collection, implement indexing and access, conduct industry training, and develop suitable training materials.
This collection, focused on seafood science and engineering, would be located in the Guin Library at Oregon State Universitys Hatfield Marine Science Center (Newport). The major rationale relates to local expertise, infrastructure, and institutional commitment. Oregon State University has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the seafood technology area as other institutions within the region have seen diminishing levels of seafood technology activity and/or general resources. In many locations, library collections have been trimmed as local research funding phases out and journal costs escalate. Professional staff at such libraries must focus on current demands of users. Starting new libraries at new laboratory facilities becomes problematic because of the cost of collections and the diminishing numbers of qualified science librarians.
The Guin Library at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center is well positioned to take responsibility for a central regional seafood technology collection.
We propose that this collection focus initially on materials relating to seafood technology and engineering in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. That is, work that would benefit seafood safety, regional industrial development, value-added processing, waste utilization and management. The collection would not include the following areas in its initial focus: fisheries biology; fisheries management and stock assessment; fishing gear/harvesting methodologies; aquaculture production. [It would, however, address processing/preservation/shipping issues relevant to aquaculture-reared products].
The library would concentrate services on users in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. These would include industry product and quality assurance managers, marketers, engineers, suppliers; academic researchers, Extension educators, students; government regulators, researchers, technology transfer agents.
Our future and long-term vision would expand the scope to create formal linkages and service agreements with libraries and users in British Columbia, Mexico and other international locales. We are aware of current related efforts in Western Europe, New Zealand, Eastern Canada, and FAO/Rome.
Phase I planning, projected to be underway during the period July 1999 - March 2000, will prepare for the commencement of this proposed project. Phase I will include the following tasks, under three objective headings:
This one-year project is defined by the current proposal to the Sea Grant Technology Program. To review its Short-Term Objectives:
Structure Development Objective
Development of the collection management structure would be directed by PI Webster, with assistance from all.
Collections and review would be managed by PIs Paust and Kolbe with assistance from all.
Library services would be the major responsibility of PI Webster. PI Kolbe would manage the business of the Steering Committee.
Training would be managed by PI Webster, but would be a shared responsibility with PIs Kolbe and Paust.
As the collection and services grow, the Guin Library at HMSC would serve as a manager of the collection which could in fact be located at a number of sites whose response would be formalized, in some cases with sub-contracts. A user seeking information on a particular topic may request a search from the library, the magnitude of which would depend upon available time. As the Web-based gateway develops and users become proficient, a more common scenario would be that users conduct their own searches. Their home site might be their own office, a local library, or a local Sea Grant Marine Extension office. The gateway could include links to electronic documents, access to indices, and searchable databases.
Once material is located, a user could visit the collection, view material electronically, or request document delivery. A user could physically visit the library to read or copy a document. This may be a common practice if the materials were available at a local site such as the HMSC Library, University of Washington library, or the library at the Montlake Lab of NMFS. The material of interest could be scanned and sent over the Web to be read or printed out by the user. In general, documents would not be routinely scanned in their entirety because of sheer volume or because of copyright restrictions. Shared responsibility for scanning would be pursued with library partners where possible. Material could be copied and sent to the user by the library holding that collection as long as copyright law was followed. Loans would be made via an interlibrary loan arrangement as developed in earlier planning of.
The "deliverables" resulting from this one-year project would be:
The process of building and managing this collection, and the active involvement of an industry/university/agency steering committee will generate the kinds of benefits sought by the Sea Grant Technology Program:
These benefits are further detailed by letters in the final section of this proposal.
The structure of this overall project, and the associations of its Principal Investigators, will promote the close coordination with important and complementary programs.
Sea Grant affiliations of PI Paust (Alaska) and PI Kolbe (Oregon, Washington, Alaska) would ensure the coordination with those university programs. Project discussions with Robert Price (California Extension Sea Grant) will ensure a coordination of effort with the Seafood ListServer and Seafood Safety Compendium managed by the UC/Davis group.
PI Webster's past leadership and current affiliation with the Int'l Assoc. of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers represents strong linkages with marine and seafood technology libraries. Noteworthy are those to the Univ. of Washington and to the Sea Grant Depository, at the Pell Library, Univ. of Rhode Island. (See also the letter by Director E. Uhlinger).
The PIs work closely with seafood technology laboratory directors and associates in Oregon, Alaska, California and Washington. (See for example letters by Michael Morrissey, Norman Haard, Charles Crapo, Jerry Babbitt, Liz Brown).
Coordination with Industry associations and seafood companies would occur because of the PIs' long-term affiliation with Pacific Fisheries Technologists and is evidenced by the growing level of financial (and other) support of the planning of this project, as described below. (See also letters by James Daniels, Randy Rice, Steven Berntsen, Robert Collette, Katy Reischling).
BSFA (Bering Sea Fishermen's Assoc.). 1996. Western Alaska CDQ Project Report: Four Years of Progress.
DiCosimo, J. 1999. North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Personal Communication.
Larkin, S. and G. Sylvia. Intrinsic fish characteristics and intraseason production efficiency: a management-level bioeconomic analysis of a commercial fishery. In Press. American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
ODFW (Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife). 1995. Oregon Administrative Rules/Developmental Fisheries Program. Section 635-06-800 through 635-06-950
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