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Speaker Spotlights – At 12:00 noon. on Friday, March 31, 2017 on the main stage at the Vegas Food Expo, we’ll be talking seafood! Top executives from three cutting edge organizations will be giving attendees an update on sustainable seafood farming, the need for a national shark fin ban, and for raising public awareness to keep our coral reefs healthy.

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Sustainable Salmon
Speakers: Brandon Gottsacker, COO and Kurt Wagman, Business Development Manager
Superior Fresh
Buying salmon used to be easy. Fresh-fished salmon was abundant, prices were reasonable, and warnings about overfishing, water pollution, and PCBs weren’t making headlines. In 2011, all that has changed. More than half of the salmon now purchased in the United States comes from fish raised in man-made farms.

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Brandon and Kurt’s topic is “Redefining Sustainable Agriculture and Growing Safe, High-value Food.” Superior Fresh (www.superiorfresh.com) is an industry-leading aquaponics facility specializing in leafy greens and coldwater fish species.

Aquaponics is a relatively new field and Superior Fresh is leading the way.

Aquaponics is defined as “the symbiotic relationship between fish, beneficial bacteria, and plants.” In an aquaponics system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrifying bacteria into nitrites then nitrates. After the nitrates are utilized by the plants the clean water is recirculated back to the aquaculture system with virtually zero waste. By creating optimum environments for all three of these living organisms, Superior Fresh is creating an efficient ecosystem that benefit all.

Superior Fresh raises premium Atlantic salmon and Steelhead trout in a state-of-the-art land based recirculation aquaculture facility in conjunction with premium, organic produce grown in an ultramodern hydroponics glass greenhouse. The company’s production systems provide the freshest and most healthy products year-round, while practicing ecologically sound water conservation with zero-discharge of production water. As Brandon says, “We aim to produce the freshest product available year-round, all while maintaining a water sustaining zero-discharge facility.”

Brandon and Kurt will give attendees the inside scoop on what the sustainable salmon movement is all about. Their Northfield, Wisconsin facility – which includes a massive 2½-acre greenhouse – is situated on a 720-acre Native Restoration Sanctuary nestled in the Coulee Region of Western Wisconsin. Superior Fresh’s flagship aquaponics facility is the largest of its kind in the world, filled with state of the art equipment and technology.

Read more here.

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The Shark Fin Ban

Speaker: David McGuire, MEH
Founder and Director of Shark Stewards, an Ocean Health and Shark Conservation non profit organization

As a Research Associate of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences, David McGuire, MEH, is currently conducting a shark research program that includes population studies, movements, and fisheries impacts.

The Shark Team

The Shark Team

A Captain, Dive Master and filmmaker, David explores the world ocean on numerous sailing voyages producing media with an emphasis on ocean awareness. Educated in Marine Biology, he holds a masters degree in Environmental Health, has worked in education and public health at the University of California at Berkeley, and is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

Shark Stewards is credited with introducing the bill and catalyzing the coalition taht led to the passage of the Shark Conservation Act (Fong, Huffman) in the State of California banning the sale and trade of shark fins.

Since then, Shark Stewards has worked in shark fin regulations in 11 U.S. states and currently is supporting a U.S. law to eliminate the trade of shark fins in the United States. As a documentarian and diver, he has conducted expeditions with California Academy researchers communicating the wonders of the natural world and ocean life and the need to protect them, including a two month expedition to the Philippines where he collected and filmed for the Academy.

Shark Stewards has also formed an alliance in Malaysian Borneo to reduce shark fishing and the shark fin trade and create marine protected areas in the Coral Triangle, and is working with local communities to restore coral reefs and protects sharks in Sabah, Malaysia. Active in the California Marine Protected Areas and California National Marine Sanctuaries, David co-chairs the Golden Gate MPA Collaborative effort communicating the science and regulations of MPAs and facilitating compliance, and leads education expeditions to the Farallon islands.

David is the writer, producer and underwater cinematographer of several award winning documentaries focusing on sharks. He has published numerous articles on the state of the ocean and sharks and writes a National Geographic blog called Ocean Views on sharks and ocean health that is published on several online outlets. David is also an author of numerous articles and fiction and non fiction books, including Surviving the Shark. David has also been recognized as a Hero of the Environment by the Town of Pacifica for his educational and ocean conservation work. An ocean adventurer and athlete, David is an open water marathon swimmer, swimming for sharks. His current work includes an online film series called “Borneo From Below,” and the book, Surfing with Sharks.

Currently, the organization is running an “Adopt Your Shark Today and Save a Reef” Program. All donations go to their campaign in Malaysia, to restore coral reefs by rescuing sharks from trawlers and reintroducing them into the protected area at the Pom Pom Island Field Station run by Shark Steward’s research partners.

Catch a peak at the Shark Team.

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The Lionfish Invasion

Speaker: Stacy Frank
Co-Founder, LionfishUniversity.org

Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, LionfishUniversity.org is all about controlling the lionfish invasion through education and action. As one of its founders, Ms. Stacy Frank has been instrumental in spreading the word about the threat of lionfish (Pterois volitans), especially as it relates to threatening the well-being of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, including the commercially and recreationally-important fishes that depend on them.

A lionfish. (Source: New York Times)

A lionfish. Source: New York Times.

Coral reefs provide many ecological and economical benefits to our world, but are in danger of becoming extinct because of invasive lionfish that originally inhabited the Indian and South Pacific Oceans and the Red Sea and spread to Atlantic waters after being imported for aquariums. Lionfish have no natural predators and are becoming rapidly overpopulated. They are out-competing every other native fish in the Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, and destroying our ecosystem on both an environmental and economic level.

The facts:
– The invasive species breed faster than native fish, with individual females laying around two million eggs each year.
– Highly resistant to disease and infection, lionfish have a high chance of survival to adulthood and can live up to two decades.
– Lionfish are carnivorous and can consume fish up to twice their size, with stomachs expanding up to 30 times their normal volume.
– A single lionfish is capable of consuming 80 percent of the young reef fish on small coral reefs within just five weeks of establishing its territory.
– The destruction of these natural structures poses an immediate economic threat for the 42 million people in the Western Atlantic Basin that make their living from coral reefs.

If lionfish remain unchecked, coral reef decimation is a very likely. Far worse than other invasive species, like zebra mussels, snakeheads, and Asian carp, the lionfish population is continuing to expand, especially in the western north Atlantic region. As Stacy Frank explains, “It’s become clear during research for a lionfish thriller screenplay that our Caribbean reefs are being threatened by many factors, including the invasive lionfish.” Stacy carries this message to audiences everywhere: now is the time to face this nemesis.

Ms. Frank holds a Masters degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and resides in Las Vegas with her husband, Dr. Barry Frank, who is an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. She has been an avid scuba diver since 1973 and lives to dive.
Learn more about seafood and the environment. Don’t miss these great speakers on March 31, 2017 at 12 noon at the Vegas Food Expo.