My name is Betty Mujica and I am working as a Sea Grant Summer Scholar in Newport, OR until August! I’m excited to share my adventures, both at work and play. I took a road trip with one of the other scholars all the way from Louisiana to arrive in the fine city of Newport, which took about 6 days. We stopped in Arlington and Amarillo, TX; Buena Vista, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; and Boise, ID (where we got to fly in a little private plane!). Finally we arrived in Corvallis, then Newport, to get down to business.
My project this summer focuses on the transportation of live seafood—Dungeness crab and oysters—from the Oregon coast to a growing Chinese market. Working under the mentorship of two advisers, I will conduct interviews with seafood producers along the coast of the Pacific NW to figure out what shipping and handling practices are most common and most effective. Furthermore, I will be conducting an economic analysis of these transportation systems to analyze what methods are the most beneficial. Hopefully by the end of the summer, we will have a comprehensive guide to harvesting and transporting seafood for any newcomers into the seafood market.
Tuesday of last week marked the first official workday for all the Sea Grant Scholars. I met with one of my advisers who gave me some literature to read up on about seafood transportation and a background of the industry in the NW. Coming from Louisiana, I’m somewhat familiar with seafood; however, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are pretty different in terms of what seafood they yield, so reading up on background information is pretty important. While most of my week was spent reading and researching, I was able to do a few interactive things to enhance my understanding of the industry. I went down to Newport’s historic bay front area and checked out the local seafood shops and restaurants, enjoying a delicious order of fish and chips (made with local lingcod). Another evening, I went to Local Ocean, a sustainable seafood restaurant. I decided since I was studying how to harvest and ship Dungeness crab, I should probably try eating one. I ordered a 2 pounder and getting the meat out was exhausting, but worth it.
In my free time, I started researching how to dig clams. This is something completely foreign to me, but apparently quite common to those who grew up around these parts. I went out one day with two other Scholars and dug around to find some clams—no one told us it wasn’t that simple. The next day I did some in depth research, watching YouTube videos and learning all the regulations. I also bought a shellfish permit, which allows me to harvest between 12-20 clams per day, depending on the type of clam. Then my friends and I went out again, this time with tube-shaped sand removing contraptions and started to dig. This time we had major success, finding several different types including a pretty big gaper clam. Unfortunately, we didn’t look into how to store clams correctly and by the next day they were dead. But no worries, I’ll continue to research and figure out how to clam efficiently and eventually I will be a clamming master!
This week should be filled with much more reading and research, but hopefully I’ll start visiting oyster farms and some commercial crabbers to get a first-hand look at how the industry works. My one hope for this week is that we have less rain and more sun– what can I say, I’m a dreamer!
Sounds like you’re getting some good hands-on, personal experience as both a researcher and seafood consumer. I hope “third time’s a charm” applies to your next clamming experience!
Sure am, I got to eat some fresh oysters today after I did an interview with one of the farmers around here..delish! And I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on the clam adventures, thanks for the luck.
Were they your first oysters, or have you eaten them before? Could you taste a difference between Gulf of Mex seafood and PacNW?
I’ve been eating raw oysters for a while and you can definitely taste the difference between the ones up here and the ones from the Gulf. The Olympias and Kumamotos are much saltier and have a pretty unique flavor, you don’t have to cover them in cocktail sauce or anything.
I always wondered why Louisiana had so many different varieties of hot sauce…