Archive for the ‘Partners’ Category

Like most of us, many local Chinese and Vietnamese community members are foodies. They are passionate about what they eat and since fish is a regular part of the Chinese and Vietnamese diet, active partnerships with the Herald Community Center (HCC) and Boat People SOS (BPSOS) have been critical in connecting FCEC’s message with these affected community members.

Although many local Chinese and Vietnamese community members are avid fish lovers, many have never heard of FCEC or about the health risks concerning contaminated fish consumption before HCC and BPSOS provided outreach. In the past, language was a barrier to delivering the Do Not Consume (DNC) message to this audience. Now with the help of HCC and BPSOS, FCEC’s “How to Prepare Fish Safely” video has been viewed by various Chinese and Vietnamese communities to drive the message home. At first, there were mixed feelings regarding the video as community members expressed their acquired preference for preparing fish whole. The “fish won’t taste good…if we take away all the good parts!” voiced a concerned Vietnamese community member.

However, after learning that safe fish properly filleted and then grilled, baked or broiled is a healthier and safer alternative for their family, community members were much more receptive and appreciative of the DNC message. At the workshops, many community members were eager to ask questions and were impressed overall by the research and effort EPA has put forth to protect the public’s health. Many HCC workshop participants even said they were “excited to pass on the message and pass on FCEC’s tip cards to family and friends that go fishing!” Within the last year, HCC and BPSOS have helped FCEC reach over 800 Chinese and Vietnamese community members through informative workshops and distributing tip cards.  HCC even placed an ad highlighting the DNC message in the Herald Monthly, which reaches 40,000 Chinese subscribers monthly.

FCEC would like to thank our partners HCC and BPSOS for another successful year of outreach and helping protect the health of these local communities!

Fishing is a great sport and provides us all with an enjoyable, active and healthy hobby. FCEC is here not only to promote fishing and the consumption of safe fish to eat, but to also protect the public’s health by reducing the risk of consuming local contaminated fish. Last year, was the first year we partnered with Marina del Rey Anglers to start building awareness of local contaminated fish and promote healthy fishing practices. In the past year, Marina del Rey Anglers, FCEC and Los Anglers joined forces again to reach out to the sport angling community by promoting healthy and safe fishing habits and even added a fun raffle to go along with the outreach!

Marina del Rey Anglers collected 500 commitment letters from anglers pledging to fish responsibly, respect our marine environment and fisheries, release local contaminated fish and keep and consume only safe fish to eat.  Additionally, Marina del Rey Anglers collected over 300 surveys at a number of fishing related events. To sweeten the deal, MDRA secured a brand new Avet Reel to raffle off to local sport anglers who participated in the survey. Way to go MDRA!

Congratulations to Brian S. from Simi Valley who won the reel! We hope to see you using your new reel in fishing photos at www.LosAnglers.org.

Did you know you can post your fishing photos on www.LosAnglers.org too? Show off your latest catches using your fishing gear!

Last month, our Angler Outreach Team conducted their first fishing session. Fishing sessions are a new and interactive way for FCEC to provide outreach to local anglers on how to target safe fish to eat. By bringing the information to the piers and providing a hands-on learning experience, the Angler Outreach Team can directly make an impact on anglers’ behaviors.

“Fishing sessions are a really cool type of outreach. It’s different, and they [anglers] like learning about what type of fish they catch in this area,” reported an Angler Outreach Team member from Heal the Bay.

When fish are caught during the fishing sessions, they are placed into a glass tank for anglers and kids to see. The tank provides an up-close and personal way to help anglers properly identify fish species. Many children have enjoyed “touching the live fish during the fish identification,” portion of the session, and anglers have expressed that they “like having someone out on the pier showing them how to target different fish species that are healthy to eat,”  says an Angler Outreach Team member from Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The sessions provide both a fun and educational experience for all. Fishing sessions are fit for first time anglers, families and experienced anglers looking to refresh their fishing knowledge. Come join us at the next fishing session with our Angler Outreach Team to learn more about fishing and how to catch the safe fish to eat!

Stay tuned to our Facebook page and event calendar for upcoming fishing sessions. And while you’re waiting for the next fishing session to arrive, check out some of these actions shots from our latest fishing sessions:

FCEC has been working hard to increase public outreach and education for anglers who are vulnerable to consuming contaminated fish species from the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site: white croaker, black croaker, topsmelt, barred sand bass and barracuda. FCEC coordinated a recent training session with our outreach partners, the Marina Del Rey Anglers. Over the course of the meeting, members of the Marina Del Rey Anglers learned how to conduct a 2-minute survey to anglers who have and have-not received outreach from FCEC. The purpose of these short surveys is to provide FCEC support in better measuring the effectiveness of outreach on awareness of Do Not Consume (DNC) fish and intentions with DNC fish. Additionally, anglers who had received outreach in the past were asked to sign a commitment letter to only eat healthy fish.

 

Check out some of the photos from the meeting here:

For the last year, Judy Huang has been the sole Project Manager for EPA’s Palos Verdes Shelf project. In this New Year, we are pleased to welcome Phillip Ramsey to the team as Manager for the Institutional Controls Program. Phillip takes the reins of the 12 year program initially pioneered by EPA’s Fred Schauffler, who recently passed.

Please join us as we take a few moments to get to know Phillip and his plans for the Program:

FCEC: What were you working on before you were tapped to step in on the Palos Verdes Shelf Institutional Controls Program?

Phillip Ramsey: For the past seventeen years, I have been working in the EPA (Region 9) Federal Facilities unit of the Superfund program, assisting the military with the cleanup of numerous California bases. During that time I oversaw the transfer of the Oakland Naval Hospital and Oakland Navy Supply and also managed the Concord, Barstow, Tracy and Sharpe sites, to name some.  Prior to Federal Facilities, I managed a private Superfund site for about five years that is located in Los Angeles County: the Puente Valley Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site. I think it’s incredible that I have come full circle to work on this large scale, high profile, marine sediment site, and to be given this opportunity to serve the millions of people (and the thousands of anglers) that call SoCal home.

FCEC: What are you looking forward to about overseeing the Institutional Control Program?

Phillip Ramsey: I am very excited to have been asked to assist Judy Huang on the site and to build on the foundation that Fred Shauffler established for the Program.

I am looking forward to working with FCEC’s partners that are associated with the Educational Outreach, Monitoring, and Enforcement aspects of the Institutional Control Program. To date, I have had the pleasure of attending two meetings on the PV Shelf site and recognize the tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience that collectively exists. It’s my goal to maximize the utilization of this talented pool of professionals to develop a strengthened and robust Institutional Controls Program. Having a background and interest in fisheries and marine biology, and being an angler myself, I am very excited about managing the Education Outreach and Monitoring components and working with the local angling community to strengthen partnerships, improve communication and promote safe fishing practices.

I have a bachelor’s degree in biology (marine biology emphasis) from Fullerton, a graduate degree in natural resource (wastewater utilization option) from Humboldt State and have applicable experiences that have prepared me well for this project. I worked as a freshwater fisheries extensionist oversees in the Peace Corps, which provided me extensive cross cultural experiences, and have freshwater aquaculture experience, serving as a manager in an indoor aquaculture facility in Fresno County.

FCEC: What challenges do you see ahead?

Phillip Ramsey: Like other projects I have undertaken at EPA, I view challenges as opportunities. The Institutional Controls Program for the Palos Verdes Shelf Site represents an opportunity for EPA and its partners to continue ongoing efforts to reinforce and refine existing program components, in order to insure protection of human health, to further promote safe fishing practices and to support fishing and fisheries through positive communication, cooperation and collaboration with the public and commercial and sport fishing representatives that depend on sustainable fisheries.

In mid-September FCEC stakeholders, representatives and partners gathered at the City of Long Beach Family Health and Education Center for the annual Strategic Planning Meeting.

Take a look inside the Strategic Planning Meeting and see the FCEC Team at work!

Judy Huang, EPA Project Manager, and Robert Lindfors of ITSI kicked off the meeting with an update on the monitoring and capping efforts off the PV Shelf. In the presentation they highlighted that traces of chemicals are reducing in the sediment, but not in the fish. There is no explanation for this quite yet, but they are keeping a close eye on it.

Next, a presentation on the Seafood Consumption Study was given. A significant finding has been that compared to the same study conducted in 1994, for every 3 anglers seen in 1994 only 1 angler is still fishing.  Information on Pier Outreach efforts was then presented, and it was noted that over 8,800 anglers were reached during July 2011 – June 2012. It was found that compared to anglers who haven’t received outreach, a greater proportion of those who did receive outreach reported awareness of the local fish contamination.

The last presentation was given by Gabrielle Dorr from the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, where she discussed their priorities for the restoration projects on fishing and habitat, bald eagles, falcons and seabirds. In addition, she reviewed the goals of the fishing restoration project, which is to provide public information to restore lost fishing services and construct artificial reefs and fishing access improvements.

The Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP) consists of six Federal and State of California agencies that are restoring natural resources which were harmed by past releases of DDTs and PCBs into the Southern California ocean environment. MSRP has installed educational kiosks at the SEA Lab in Redondo Beach, the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Channel Island Park Visitor Center in Ventura. FCEC chatted with MSRP’s Gabrielle Dorr about the kiosks.

FCEC: What is the MSRP kiosk exactly?

Gabrielle Dorr: The kiosks are educational tools that allow users to interact and learn about restoration of natural resources from DDT and PCB contamination. Essentially each kiosk contains software referred to as “Augmented Reality” which allows kids to experience nature in 3D. The kiosks stream short videos about our restoration projects as well. The interactive 3D imagery was developed by Total Immersion while the overall design and concept of the kiosk was created by Pavement.

The kiosks are designed to take viewers through several 3D animation scenarios allowing them to zoom into and out of an eagle’s nest for example. The videos go into more detail about specific restoration projects.

FCEC: What’s so darn cool about the MSRP kiosks?

Gabrielle Dorr: The kiosks contain cutting edge technology that has never been used in this type of setting before. It’s been used in commercial settings but never for educational purposes. First, it’s interactive, which means for the audience we are seeking to educate, kids, it’s a captivating tool.

Since the MSRP kiosks are located in aquariums and science centers it has a lot to compete with. So we worked hard to develop something that will keep the kids engaged.

The kiosks have reached over 200,000 people so far!

FCEC: So the MSRP kiosks are for kids? Why kids?

Gabrielle Dorr: Certainly the MSRP kiosks are geared toward kids, but adults can also enjoy them and learn about restoration.  Kids educate their families by acting as portals of information.  They help spread the word, especially if they get excited about it, which is our hope with the kiosk idea. Not only can they take a brochure home when they finish using the kiosk, they can also download the program on their home computer to continue the learning experience.

The bottom line is that youth are great multipliers of knowledge. Reaching them can have a great effect on the larger community in general. This is where our program overlaps directly with FCEC’s mission to educate the public about fish contamination. It is our hope that our program helps to achieve this same goal.

FCEC: Where can folks find the MSRP kiosks?

Gabrielle Dorr: One of the MSRP kiosks is located in SEA Lab at 1021 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, 90277. People can find it in the main exhibit area. Another MSRP kiosk is at the California Science Center, located at Exposition Park, 39th Street & Figueroa Street. And a third can be found at the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, 93001.

MSRP has other fun, interactive educational tools such as their Fish Webcam and Bald Eagle Webcam. Make sure to check them out on the MSRP website!

In smaller markets across Southern California, confusion and trickery can sometimes result in the sale of contaminated white croaker to both merchants and consumers. Looking out for the community means not only going where we catch our fish, but also where we buy them. To prevent the sale of contaminated white croaker in local markets, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and local health inspectors visit hundreds of local vendors every year to inspect their products and ensure that the fish sold there are purchased from approved sources, such as licensed fish wholesalers, distributors or commercial fishermen. Since 2008, our FCEC Enforcement Program has not found contaminated white croaker sold in markets.

The LA County Public Health Department inspects 30 markets twice a year, Orange County 12 markets monthly, and Long Beach inspects 15 markets, 3 restaurants and 1 wholesaler 4 times a year. In addition to inspections, CDFG representatives and health inspectors use our FCEC materials to educate sellers on the local fish contamination issues that affect them and their customers.

See our Enforcement Program team at work in the images below!

FCEC has reached a lot of anglers over the years. What is “a lot” you ask? During 2009-2011 FCEC and our partners have reached out to over 15,400 anglers, conducting a total of 1,979 surveys during this stretch of time. As such, we’ve heard a lot of stories and learned a lot about the folks that frequently fish at our local piers. We appreciate these anglers and the knowledge and experiences they share with us.

Our outreach team has seen these anglers endure heavy winds to catch fish at Belmont pier in Long Beach, talk about cool shark sightings and locate schools of surfperch under the Santa Monica Pier. Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay even shared his insights in a recent interview that we recommend you check out.

Besides catching fish at the local piers and sighting seals and sharks, anglers have also been interested in our  FCEC Angler Tip Cards, and not just because they have a nifty ruler to measure their fish with! Due to the efforts of the Angler Outreach Team, results have shown a reduced amount of reported Do Not Consume fish consumption and an increase of anglers aware of the contamination. Heal the Bay and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Angler Outreach Team members have been doing fantastic work to protect public health and educate folks about local fish contamination, and we are proud of their efforts!

Check out some photos of the Angler Outreach Team in action over 2011. Happy New Year!

 

 

When it comes to highlighting efforts that protect both the environment and everyday people alike, there are few programs as impressive as the enforcement efforts carried out by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). FCEC, in collaboration with the CDFG, has noticed a reduction in the landing of white croaker, one of the most affected species from DDT- and PCB-contamination from the Palos Verdes Shelf.  Enforcement efforts by CDFG ensure that 10-per-day catch limits and the commercial no-take (catch ban) zone for white croaker near the Palos Verdes shelf are observed during commercial and recreational fishing. The results have been happier markets and healthier oceans.

We caught up with CDFG Lieutenant, Rebecca Hartman, to get a better idea of the scope—and success—of these programs.

1. Can you talk about the process when you inspect a commercial vessel? What are you looking for?

Rebecca Hartman: When wardens inspect a commercial fishing vessel, we try to watch the vessel first and get a feel for what gear they are using, and how many people are working on the boat. Although most people are law-abiding citizens, wardens always have to keep in mind that drugs and other items are sometimes smuggled into the United States by vessel.  Every contact with a vessel is appoached with that mindset. When we decide to contact the boat, we usualy pull up next to theirs, get the Captain’s permission to board, and climb over the railings onto the deck to do our inspection. Once we get a feel for everyone on the boat, we ask to see licneses and any fish they have caught.

Wardens look for a few general things when we board a boat at sea. We make sure that the area they are fishing in is open to commercial fishing with the type of gear they are using. In California, we have commercial fisherman that use hookah gear (diving using an air hose that leads to their boat), traps, nets, and fishing lines. We check to make sure the season is open for the type of fish they are taking, and that everyone on board the boat has a commercial fishing license and any permit that might be required for that type of fish or fishing gear. We check to  make sure the fish are the right size, and they have only kept the quantity they are allowed to take.  If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is!  State and Federal Agencies are walking a fine line between allowing people to fish, and protecting the fish populations enough to ensure we have fish for the future. It’s complicated, but it seems to be working.

2. Have you found any white croaker during your inspections (commercial vessels, recreational, markets)? What happens when you find white croaker?

Rebecca Hartman: I have seen them caught by sport fishermen on local piers, but not in the markets or restaurants lately. It appears that the white croaker just aren’t biting in large numbers this year.

When I find white croaker in a market, although it’s been awhile since I have, I ask to inspect the paperwork to determine where the fish were caught. As long as they were not taken in the “red zone,” there’s no problem with eating the white croaker. If they don’t have documentation, I seize the fish until they can provide documentation that it came from a “clean area.” If they can’t provide the documentation, the fish are seized and destroyed.

When I find someone on a pier keeping white croaker inspite of the health warnings, I always point the health advisories out to them and make sure they understand the decision they are making. It is their right to keep and eat white croaker if they choose.

 

3. What’s the latest news about white croaker landings?

Rebecca Hartman: We looked at landing receipts from 9/1/2010 through 9/1/2011 and found that less than 68 pounds of white croaker caught from the commercial catch ban area were landed. This is a significant decrease from previous years. For instance, in 2009, about 3,300 pounds of white croaker caught from the commercial catch ban area were landed.

So, I think we can say that our outreach has had a huge impact on the market for white croaker, although some could argue it could be other forces as well. Next steps include a warden visiting the businesses that purchased the white croaker to see who is actually consuming it. The warden would also speak to the fishermen landing the white croaker, just to make sure they are aware of the reasons for our concerns, although it is obviously not their target species.