Innovations and Improvements - Behind the Scenes
The Seafood Research & Education Center (also known as the "Seafood Lab") was established in 1940 to work with the seafood industry, and continues that tradition today. The Lab's goals include developing ways processors can improve both yield and quality, and showing fishermen how they can become involved in the processing of their catch rather than just selling a commodity. The Lab's ongoing research in seafood science, safety. and technology has produced significant innovations, with regional, national, and international impacts. A few examples:
- When dam-building changed salmon ecology, hatcheries - which were set up to compensate for the loss of wild salmon runs - needed a nutritional diet. Duncan Law and Russell Sinnhuber developed the Oregon Moist Pellet (OMP) which produced far healthier fingerlings at a lower cost. This innovation was a strong factor in increased run sizes in later years, and allowed commercial salmon fishing to reopen in Youngs Bay.
- The Seafood Lab played a major role in the development of the stateside hake (whiting) industry, by working with the industry to develop "value-added" products such as fish patties and surimi. This genereated capital investment for whiting processing, and further development of a shore-based industry.
- The shrimping industry's problem with peeling machines that wasted up to 85% of the product was tackled by the Seafood Lab, which developed a method that left less meat attached to the shell. This method doubled the yield, substantially increasing revenues for the industry.
- The Lab's ground-breaking work on surimi, which greatly increased the value of underused species and opened new markets for fishermen and processors, led to establishment of the now-international Surimi School and the Surimi Industry Forum.
- The Lab worked with the oyster industry to develop a safe, zesty, and appealing oyster shooter, prepackaged in a shot glass - an immediate hit, for taste, style, and convenience.
- In seafood safety, the Lab continues its work on reduction of Vibrio bacteria in oysters, elimination of Listeria in smoked salmon, and pasteurization of surimi by e-beam radiation.