Monday, February 15, 2010

Sea Grant research donates Fat Tuesday perch to Hunger Task Force

Milwaukee (2/16/2010) -- In their yellow perch cultivation research, scientists at the Great Lakes WATER Institute have produced a sizeable number of surplus fish that have reached market size – enough to share. But there will be no leftovers when the Hunger Task Force begins to distribute the donation of 500 processed and frozen pounds of the tasty fish.

This is the second year that the WATER Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM) and its funding partner, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, have made the donation of yellow perch to the Milwaukee-based food pantry.

A short announcement event, followed by unloading of the freezers, will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the WATER Institute, 600 E. Greenfield Ave.

Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, predicted the fish would be gone within hours. Her organization has seen a 23 percent monthly increase in clients using the food pantry during the past year.

Now, area families will have the opportunity to enjoy the kind of meal they otherwise may not be able to afford. Retail prices on yellow perch vary, but can range as high as $16 per pound. The total estimated value of the donation is $8,000. The fish will be distributed in two-pound packages.

“This week, Catholics in the Milwaukee area observe Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season,” says Fred Binkowski, an aquaculture specialist with the Sea Grant Program and a senior scientist at the WATER Institute. “It’s a time when a lot of fish is consumed, more so than even during the popular Friday night fish fry ritual in this state. But the formerly robust yellow perch stock in Lake Michigan has been depleted. With aquaculture, we can revive a source of delicious, locally produced yellow perch with few to no contaminants.”

WATER Institute scientists have developed a method to breed the fish year-round and have reduced the time it takes to raise yellow perch to market size (about 7.5 inches long).

All research results benefit Wisconsin and the Great Lakes aquaculture industry with an estimated annual production value of more than $50 million. Producers are in both rural areas and urban ones, such as Milwaukee’s Growing Power and Sweet Water Organics operations.

The WATER Institute’s aquaculture projects are funded by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, private industry, the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that supports the USDA/ARS Aquaculture Cooperative housed at the WATER Institute.
The Great Lakes WATER Institute, part of UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences, is the largest academic freshwater research center on the Great Lakes. Working in partnership with public and private agencies, it engages in interdisciplinary research, education and outreach to protect the world’s freshwater resources and the health of the human and natural populations dependent upon them.

Sea Grant is a national network of 32 university-based programs of research, outreach and education for enhancing the practical use and conservation of coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources to create a sustainable economy and environment.

Hunger Task Force is an anti-hunger organization which believes that every person has a right to adequate food obtained with dignity. Hunger Task Force works to prevent hunger and malnutrition by providing food to people in need today and by promoting social policies to achieve food security tomorrow.