Archive for the ‘FCEC News’ Category

Due to the diverse nature of the angling community that is affected by the Palos Verdes Superfund Site contamination, it is an ongoing mission to keep local anglers safe from consuming the 5 local contaminated fish species. In order to increase anglers’ awareness of the Do Not Consume (DNC) fish, FCEC implemented a project that focuses on reaching out to local bait shops.

FCEC began conducting outreach to bait shops and retail stores in November 2013, and March 2014 marked the completion of the first round of visits. Stores FCEC targeted ranged from small local bait shops to large retail stores. So far, outreach is off to a great start. As of March 2014, FCEC has educated 102 employees at 81 angler retail and bait shops in 27 cities near the Red Zone. The majority of store owners and employees were supportive of the message and many pledged to keep the DNC fish information readily available to protect their customers’ health. By leveraging the help of local stores and their employees who are often viewed as experts to their angling customers, FCEC is able to relay the Do Not Consume advisory to the targeted angling audience.

During one of our outreach sessions we were pleased to learn that Eileen, an employee at a local bait shop in San Pedro, recognized our tip cards from a previous store that we visited and placed materials. This was great news, because it means our outreach efforts are working!

After placing FCEC Tip Cards in the bait shops, we followed up with the stores. This was when Eileen told us “the cards are all gone. The first time I saw the [FCEC Tip] cards was at another bait shop, and I thought it was a great idea. I think it’s important for people to stay aware of these issues – [especially since] my husband is a fisherman.”

When the FCEC outreach team visited the stores, a generous supply of FCEC Tip Cards were placed near the bait or fishing accessories areas where any angler getting ready to go fishing could take one or a few to pass on to other local anglers.

Following the completed first round of outreach, the FCEC outreach team will continue to conduct follow-ups with these stores throughout the year to ensure they have an adequate supply of FCEC materials for their angling customers.

 

 

What do you do when you have a big appetite for fish? Since nowadays most community members go fishing just for recreation, the market is typically the spot where folks go for their catch of the day. We developed a brochure in collaboration with our partners to widen outreach efforts to the local markets, since we did not have outreach materials tailored specifically for markets and restaurants. Designed to be a brochure and a poster, the main goal of developing the piece was to demonstrate the local fish contamination information in an easy and relatable way. In doing so, the brochure educates the market staff and many community members visiting these markets on a daily basis. The brochure includes information on health risks from eating white croaker which is one of the 5 local Do Not Consume fish, as well as provides clear instructions for market operators to buy only from approved sources and report illegal or suspicious vendors. Audiences have found the material to be easy to understand, engaging and simple. A local market employee was quoted saying the brochure was like “telling a story” as opposed to just plain information.

Currently, the brochure is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. It is distributed by Orange County Health Care Agency, Long Beach Bureau of Environmental Health and California Department of Fish and Wildlife in their market outreach efforts.

Have you seen the FCEC fish market brochure? Click here to check out a digital copy!

 

From July 22, 2012 to June 2, 2013 the FCEC Pier Outreach Evaluation team collected 670 surveys from anglers in the red zone extending from Seal Beach Pier to Santa Monica Pier. The objective was to investigate the differences between anglers who received outreach with the local fish contamination information from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Heal the Bay compared to anglers who did not receive outreach.

Although respondents across the entire sample reflected a high level of awareness (49% or higher) of Do Not Consume (DNC) fish, FCEC was particularly interested in how our outreach efforts, specifically, impacted the level of contamination awareness. After careful evaluation of the data, pier anglers who received outreach did in fact show a significantly greater awareness of fish contamination across the five DNC fish species compared to anglers who did not. For those who received outreach, the difference of greater awareness ranged from 13% – 19% per DNC fish species.

In addition to higher awareness levels to those who had received outreach, we wanted to evaluate the pier angler’s intentions with the DNC fish. Results for intentions to throw back DNC fish and to [not] give DNC fish to family or friends provided further evidence that anglers who did receive outreach were more likely to do the desired outcome compared to those who did not receive outreach. For the full report, click here.

Given the Pier Outreach Evaluation results, FCEC’s pier outreach has proved to be effective in protecting the public from health risks of consuming local contaminated fish. Take a look at FCEC’s Pier Outreach Team in action informing pier anglers of the local fish contamination throughout the year by taking a look at the photo slideshow below!

Anglers can finally catch a break! At least from all the questions the EPA Consumption Study team has been grilling them on over the past year. The study, which started February 2012, recently ended this January 2013. The survey team surveyed Southern California anglers from Seal Beach to Santa Monica in order to understand their consumption habits of eating certain types of local contaminated fish, such as white croaker, barracuda, topsmelt, barred sand bass and black croaker.

During the yearlong study, the survey team learned quite a bit about the local anglers. For example, they found that the angler community in Southern California is comprised of a socially diverse group of men and women that speak a range of different languages. Despite coming from various backgrounds, their respect for one another and the sport is mightily admirable.

At first the survey team may have looked like they were a fish out of water, but they quickly got the hang of reeling in anglers and building a trusting relationship with them.

“Some anglers may appear to be rough around the edges, but they’re a friendly bunch once you get to know them. Before we knew it, we were sharing stories and cracking jokes with anglers about turd rollers [more commonly known as sand bass].” – Surveyor, Lucia Phan

“During the winter months, only the seasoned anglers were out and it was nice to see that we remembered each other.” – Surveyor, Thuy Nghiem

The study was a mutual learning experience for anglers and the survey team.

“By having conversations with anglers, we became aware of how fishing has changed over the years and why anglers are skeptical of us ‘outsiders.’ Many longtime anglers reported that catching fish now is not as easy as it used to be a decade ago, or even a few years ago. ” – Surveyor, Alben Phung

According to some anglers, the days of catching barracuda and buckets of corbina right off the pier are long gone. Dwindling fish populations, higher regulations, and an influx of outreach have made anglers more conscious of the situation. But all in all, anglers are still out there just to have a good time. As anglers shared their experiences and concerns about the future of fishing, a conclusion can be made: Make Protecting Fishin’ Our Mission!

Watch the EPA Consumption Study survey team in action and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

 

 

If you’ve been out on the piers and the beaches from Santa Monica to Seal Beach in the last year, then you’ve probably seen FCEC’s signs that help to identify fish species that are especially prone to chemical contamination. The reason we know you’ve probably seen them is that in addition to placing the sings, we’ve been sending our team, with help from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Heal the Bay, out to measure the sign’s effectiveness. And guess what? They are working!

In the course of our research, we interviewed anglers and beach goers asking them if they had seen the signs, what they remembered about them and if they planned to change their behavior. Meanwhile, we compared that data against the number of sings we place, where we placed them, and other media that has supported the message.

To share the results in a clear and fun way we translated the data into an easy to read info-sheet. This sheet can be shared though FCEC and our partners, with each other and our communities, to show the real progress we are making towards changing how anglers are choosing and sharing their catches with their friends and family. Take a look at the info sheet to see the results for yourself and tell us if the pier signs have helped you or your friends when you’ve been fishing in Southern California!

 

When talking to anglers, the first question a group like the EPA might ask is, “what are you catching?” While this is a great thing to know from an environmental perspective, when it comes to an angler’s health a more important follow-up question is “What are you eating?” and further, “How are you eating them?” These questions haven’t been asked seriously in nearly 20 years! Since the consumption of certain fish species in the Palos Verdes Shelf area can be a threat to public health, we have begun implementing a Consumption Study program. Judy Huang, EPA Program Manager, explains one of the most important outcomes of the consumption study is “to inform the public of risks associated from eating certain seafood originating from the Palos Verdes Shelf and be able to use this information as a tool to make informed choices about the food they cook and eat.”

Over the course of the study (February 2012 – January 2013), six survey administrators are collecting stories from the diverse Southern California population between Santa Monica and Seal Beach in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. For comprehensive data, the surveyors interview anglers one-on-one across all modes of fishing: Piers, jetties, beaches, intertidal zones, private boats, and fishing charters, over the course of a year to gather data during all seasons. Weekdays and weekends, rain or shine and with clipboards and educational props such as fish models in hand, our surveyors ask anglers questions about their fishing experience, knowledge of the DDT contamination off the PV Shelf and whether they have seen posted contamination warnings. If an angler has fish in his bucket, the surveyors ask to examine the fish along with asking a series of questions about the consumption of those particular fish.

The information being gathered is crucial for us to best mitigate the risks to anglers from contaminated catches. The better we understand what seafood consumption habits currently are, and how well tactics have worked over the past 20 years, a more informed decision can be made about what should be adjusted in the future to create a healthier fishing experience for everyone.

What kinds of fish do you eat? And how do you prepare it? We’d love to know!

For FCEC’s Partners Meeting on January 24, we acknowledged some changes in our team: the departure of Howard Wang, who has been with the project since 2008, Mark Gold moving from Heal the Bay to join UCLA’s sustainability team, and of course, saying goodbye to our outgoing Project Manager, Carmen White, and welcoming Judy Huang in her place.

In her parting words, Carmen acknowledged FCEC as a cutting edge program and noted that the important connections created between community members, local, state and federal agencies has made this program what it is today.

After Judy was announced as the new project manager, each of the Partners took a moment to introduce themselves and their roles in FCEC. Following these announcements and introductions, the Partners presented updates on several programs and discussed two great successes of recent projects: the Pier Sign Evaluation and updated Tip Card. We are happy to report that the pier signs are working, and anglers are taking away the key messages of the pier signs.

Coupled with the updated Tip Card, that now provides a link directing people to safe fish to eat in other areas, FCEC’s efforts are starting to see strong signs of influence in anglers making safe and informed choices of the fish they catch and eat.

And speaking of eats, check out our Partner’s Meeting slideshow below to see how our meeting was an event that called for cake!

 

 

Americans have come to use the Hawaiian, “Aloha,” as a word to mean both hello and goodbye. It’s a pleasant, if not an entirely accurate, translation. It’s also very fitting for us at this moment as we say Aloha to both Judy Huang and Carmen White, FCEC’s incoming and outgoing Project Managers.

For the last year, Carmen White has provided our group with remarkable leadership in broadening FCEC’s educational and community outreach. We offer her all our gratitude for her efforts.

As we wish Carmen farewell, we are pleased to welcome Judy Huang to her new role. We sat down with FCEC’s new Project Manager to ask her what she sees for the future of the group.

FCEC: Hi Judy, can you share a little of your background with us?

Judy Huang: While I have a lot of work and educational experience with environmental science—I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkley—I also recognize the importance of engaging and activating communities through outreach.

Like Carmen before me, I’m coming from the EPA. I’ve been with their superfund division for 6 years. Prior to that, I had worked for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board for 13 years where I worked on sites addressing a variety of topics including: waste water treatment plant discharge, stormwater permitting, wetland restoration and superfund site cleanup.

FCEC: What other superfund sites have you worked on and what do they share in common with the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site?

Judy Huang: I was the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Regional Coordinator, so a lot of them have been things like closed military facilities. Interestingly, the work I did with Fort Ord, to address the cleanup of munitions, earned the distinction of being the first privatized cleanup on a military base.

I’ve done a lot of work on sites in Hawaii that have a lot issues in common with PV Shelf. The Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station and the Del Monte Oahu Plantation both dealt with pesticide cleanups stemming from soil, sediments and groundwater contamination.

While not a superfund site, an offshore munitions study site in Hawaii called Ordinance Reef examined the impact of munitions to human health in the environment. Similar to the PV Shelf consumption study, we had to determine if the seafood was safe to eat. The study looks at how the population prepares their food, and where they caught their fish. The best part of the site was working with the community. Unlike the PV Shelf, everyone in the community could actually see the munitions in the water when they went diving, so everyone was very engaged and aware.

FCEC: What are you looking forward to most about working with the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative on the PV Shelf Project?

Judy Huang: I’m looking forward to learning from the project! First there is the learning opportunity dealing with the technical challenge with the underwater cap. But I’m also looking forward to learning from community outreach. It’s a large component and challenging to implement and enforce. It’s unlike other superfund sites, in that respect.

FCEC: What are your thoughts on the current FCEC outreach efforts and program as a whole?

Judy Huang: PV Shelf is one fast moving project. Based on the Partners meeting we had, I’m impressed with how many people FCEC managed to reach. It’s been impressive to see how excited partners are, and how much pride and ownership they have towards their role in the project.

The at-risk communities we focus on here at FCEC are not often fluent in English, which makes the way we communicate that much more critical. As such, we recently rolled out an updated website that includes our online content in multiple languages.

We hope that this faster and all around better version of providing information in different languages on www.pvsfish.org will have a positive impact on our outreach efforts and the community at-large. In addition to English, the site is now available in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

And this is just the beginning! More added features are coming soon, including video content and other educational and promotional material. This is an exciting time for FCEC and we want to thank you for being a part of it. So be sure to check out our new language features on our website!

The Fish Contamination Education Collaborative (FCEC) was recently honored with a Silver Anvil Award, a distinction awarded every year to organizations that have made a real impact, forging public opinion in a positive manner. The Silver Anvil Award, which is awarded by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), is one of the public relations profession’s most highly regarded honors.

“As usual, finalists in this year’s Silver Anvil Awards are among the very top public relations programs in our industry,” said James J. Roop, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2010 Awards and Honors Committee chair. “The Silver Anvils continue to recognize the best practices in our field.”

FCEC’s approach to angler and community outreach is what made the project stand out, especially as project results demonstrated that outreach had a positive effect on reducing the likelihood of individuals eating contaminated fish.

FCEC highlighted results showing that participants who reported eating contaminated fish dropped from 10% to 0% in the Chinese community, and from 39% to 3% in the Vietnamese community after outreach. FCEC’s fisherman-focused campaign demonstrated that outreach reduced the number of contaminated fish leaving local piers by 93%.

“Through their selection for the profession’s most prestigious award, FCEC joins an elite group of winners whose work demonstrates the value of public relations to the organizations we represent, as well as the communities they serve,” said PRSA Chair Gary McCormick. “It is an honor to award them the PRSA Silver Anvil for their exemplary work to recognize the program’s achievement in public relations and its indispensable value as integral to business planning, strategy and success.”