The Final Countdown

It’s the final week of what has turned out to be a great summer internship. Needless to say, I’m surprised at how quickly my time here has gone, but pleased about all of the personal and professional progress I’ve made since June.

Last week was busy, getting ready for final Scholars Symposium presentations and writing up the sections of the final document that Sea Grant is putting together.  Like I’ve mentioned in passing before, my work and interviews have all lead to the final process of creating a few key parts to a larger document that will be published by Sea Grant later this year about expanding Oregon’s exports to China and the Asian market.  Kenneth Wingerter, the post-bac who initially started the research on the project is going to come back, write an introduction and executive summary, and tie together our information for a final publication with all stakeholders and the community in mind.  While I’m basically just putting together a rough draft to be edited by many others, I can’t wait to see what Ken and everyone else does with our work.

My work this summer has introduced me to so much about the Oregon Coast, working in a position that is meant to educate and help others, and the huge impact international trade plays on our country.  It has given me perspective on one part of the industry, that will be invaluable in navigating my future careers.  I know now that local food marketing is something that I want to become more involved with and to be able to weigh my experience in two extremes of the food marketing system.

I celebrated my birthday this weekend with the great friends I’ve made here in Oregon.  We went out on the town in Newport (yes, it’s possible to go out on the town here!), eventually working our way to Moby Dick’s for some karaoke. Then, I got to enjoy some camping with Diego and Margaretmary for the rest of the weekend.  We went to Terwilliger Hot Springs and got to experience a different part of Oregon — nude outdoors-men included.

I feel so lucky to have gotten this experience and am sincerely grateful to Sarah, Eric, and Jenna for choosing me for my position.  My mentors Tim and Rob were supportive and helpful throughout the process and I couldn’t have done the work I did without their guidance and help.  While I’m not 100% sure about my plans upon returning home, I feel that my experience here will be something that reflects positively on my ability to learn quickly, adjust to new environments, and produce quality work.

This week will be spent finishing drafting all of my information into workable documents, forming my final portfolio, and getting ready to make the long drive back to Louisiana.  And did I mention surf lessons? I can’t express my excitement and happiness over all I’ve experienced this summer, but I think my sadness about having to leave says it all.  To close, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of a great summer…until next time Oregon!

Later Oregon!

swimming with whales!

mussel hunters

My first live performance on the uke

The Sea Grant Ladies




I just wrote a whole post and it somehow got erased, so here I go again.  I have to keep this short because I’m so busy trying to get everything done that needs to get done before the program ends.  Currently I’m working on my symposium presentation (sneak preview on your left), which is taking longer than expected.  I decided to use an alternative presentation format, but I think that when it’s done it will definitely have been worth it.  My hope is to finish by this afternoon so that the rest of my time here can be spent working on my final document.

Last week was mostly spent transcribing the interviews that I did in Portland and Seattle, but by the end of the week I started on my final presentation.  My mentor, Dr. Tim, also gave me a copy of a white paper on aquaculture that was published in 2009.  I found this really helpful, as it gave me an idea of what my final document should include and how it should be organized.  While I have experience with technical writing, my biggest difficulty is being concise.  Since it is an informative white paper, it is meant to have many bullet points and brief factual statements.  Achieving that and communicating the importance and research that I’ve done will be a great accomplishment.  I think the best way to start that process is by finishing my presentation, as it relays my information as to-the-point as possible.

On Wednesday I got to perform with Diego, Becca (Volunteer Coordinator at the VC) and her fiancee Chris.  It was a great experience, especially since I have a really hard time getting on stage.  I’m proud of the different things I’ve allowed myself to experience this summer and I hope to take that with me when I leave.

Again, this week and next week are gearing up to be my busiest, but I’m so ready to see my work pulled together in a well-organized document.  While I won’t get to see the full white paper for a few months (it’s being edited and combined with a previous interns work), I think that just seeing my portion on a printed page will give me a lot of satisfaction.  ALSO, this Friday is my 22nd birthday! I’m sad I can’t spend it with my family and friends at home, but the friends I’ve made this summer will definitely help make it a memorable one.


As promised, this post will mostly recount the trip I made to Portland and Seattle last week!


Monday- First thing I did on Monday was secure and rental car and hotel for my trip.  I decided to stay in Portland for 3 nights (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) just in case some of the contacts I hadn’t heard back from got in touch with me and I needed to schedule anything else.  After picking up the car at lunch time I made a few more calls and sent out some confirmation e-mails then headed to the apartment to pack.  I chose mostly business casual clothes, keeping in mind potential job opportunities.  After getting an audio book, I loaded up the car and headed out around 5 (just in time to beat Portland traffic).  I stayed at the Shilo Inn by the airport, as my first interview was AT the airport! Airports are my favorite places onearth because of the endless possibilities– they’re like a gateway to everywhere– needless to say I was excited to get the behind the scenes.

Tuesday- My meeting with two authorities at the Port of Portland was at 9am, so I made sure to show upearly (maybe a little too early) partly to calm my nerves and partly so if I got lost I’d have time to get found.  I got to tour the Port’s newly built office facility, which is beautiful, and then drove around the entire airport checking out the different cargo facilities.  I got the impression that while PDX isn’t the biggest airport, it has a lot of things going for it.  There is a lot of enthusiasm for growth projects at the airport and the expansion of the seafood export business is definitely one of them.  After the tour I was able to conduct an interview and get their

Cargo Plane at PDX!

thoughts on the direction of the industry and what they thought the Port’s biggest strengths and weaknesses were.  It gave me the impression that there is a lot of teamwork and collaboration that goes into attracting new carriers, hearing from the community, and acting upon those needs.  My second interview was downtown with the Director of the Portland U.S. Export Assistance Center.  This was probably my toughest interview, as he was presenting a less hopeful more realistic approach to the issue of shipping seafood.  He pointed out that Oregon’s issue is with critical mass.  There isn’t enough supply coming from one source to reduce costs, pointing to an economies of scale situation.  In Washington, there are bigger producers and the smaller ones go through a freight forwarder and can ship out of SeaTac (Seattle’s airport).  He was definitely a lot more intense than other people I spoke with, but I appreciated his view as someone who doesn’t necessarily have a personal stake in the issue.  I realized that up until then I had been speaking with people who have a pretty biased opinion about transporting seafood and his was probably the first objective opinion I had received, aside from my own (which is probably a little biased at this point).  My third interview was at a coffee shop in NE Portland with a NOAA inspection manager.  This was a very casual interview, but I was glad to hear from someone at NOAA about the different issues producers have brought up about the inspection procedure.  Even he had a hard time explaining the high cost of inspection and thought the idea of creating some sort of shellfish coalition sounded like it could help reduce those costs.  Overall, it was a LONG day of interview, but I felt I had received a lot of information to make my document a lot more well-informed and researched.  Also, Diego’s days off were on Wednesday and Thursday, so he was able to join me Tuesday night for the rest of my trip!

Wednesday- Early Wednesday morning, we saddled up and drove to Seattle.  Originally I was set to meet with one freight forwarder at Express NW, but that morning I received an e-mail from someone I had contacted at FedEx Cargo saying that he could meet as well.  Once we got to Seattle I gave him a call and hoped to meet before my meeting at Express NW, but as time got close and he didn’t call me back, I wasn’t sure.  Finally, he gave me a call and had spoken with someone at Express NW saying that we could have our meeting there.  That was really convenient and I was actually able to interview both men at the same time.

Diego at Pike's Place

That created a good conversation with a lot of feedback.  In speaking with them, my hope was to see how Washington is involved with Oregon’s seafood industry, but also to get their opinion on why Oregon isn’t doing as much in terms of volume.  Again, it came down to 2 major factors — lack of direct flights and lack of volume.  When I brought up the idea of creating some sort of shellfish marketing coalition to pool resources and reduce costs, both seemed receptive to the idea.  Another thought that came up in a few past interviews that I brought up here was the idea of capitalizing in products that are abundant along the coast, but not marketable in the U.S. (for example: sea cucumbers, gooey ducks, etc.).  It was good to get the perspective of other people who have no direct affiliation with Oregon’s seafood transporttion issue, but are well-versed in the industry.  After the interviews, Diego and I went down to Pike’s Place Market and grabbed some late lunch, some peaches, and some ice cream! I tried honey lavender, which was delicious.  Seattle is a really cool town and I wish we could have spent more time there.

Thursday- Thursday was left open, hoping to hear back from one more Portland contact.  While I didn’t get in touch with him, Diego and I were able to do some personal maintenance in the city before heading back to Newport.  My hair needed a trim pretty desperately and Diego’s mullet was out of hand, so we headed to a local barber shop and got some pretty swanky cuts! After lunch and a quick stop at the Goodwill, we drove back to Newport and finished the first half of my book on tape.

Overall, it was a great trip and now I have all the information I need to finish my publication.  I know everyone’s said it, but I can’t believe the program is almost over.  I was about to say summer, but I suppose that since I’ve graduated summer is kind of a loaded word.  If I don’t get a job, then I could live in an endless summer OR maybe summer really is just a season now, not a time for recharging your batteries before putting on your backpack and heading back to school…maybe I’m getting a little too introspective.  Anyways, I’m nervous about putting my work down on paper, but I hope that once I’m done assembling it, it makes sense and is helpful to those who use it.

This weekend was fun and relaxing, I picked berries with Margaret, watched a lot of movies, exercised (Oregon has inspired me to get fit!), and cooked a lot of blueberry treats (none that I’m overly proud of…the muffins were a little dense!).  This week marks the beginning of my outline and writing process, which I can barely get started on.  I feel a little overwhelmed, but I know I’ll get it done!

Also, I’m excited for Zumba with Margaret tonight..your first class at the Newport Rec. Center is free!  Gotta take advantage of all the fun stuff in Newport before we head out of here AND if you’re in Corvallis on Wednesday night you should come see Diego play a show at Bombs Away!

Betty’s Big Adventure: Road Trip to Portland and Seattle

Sorry I forgot to blog yesterday! I was caught up with getting my rental car and hotel squared away, confirming interviews, and driving up to Portland to start my trip.  Last week was spent revising my interview questions for producers and finalizing interview questions for other industry players.  I felt it was important to formulate two different sets of questions because of the diverse roles that the people I have been interviewing– this way I could encompass more of the marketing and shipping side of the industry.  At the same time, I’ve found it’s helpful to mix and match questions meant for producers and those meant for NOAA, ODA, freight forwarders, etc.

Another big part of the last week was looking around for more contacts in Seattle, which I’m happy to report came through.  I was able to get in touch with someone at Express Northwest, which is a freight forwarder that works a lot in international shipping.  I was excited especially because I was told that it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to get freight forwarders in Seattle to speak with me because it’s a busy shipping season.  I was also advised that FedEx would be good to get in touch with because they are the middle man for a lot of producers.  Unfortunately I haven’t gotten a solid response from anyone there yet, but hope that I can at least have a phone interview with someone by the end of the week.

On Friday I drove up to Tillamook to meet with the manager of the only shellfish hatchery in Oregon.  I was surprised to see the process of breeding oyster larvae involved the production of algae.  This was definitely an interview that contained a lot more biology than I’m used to talking about, but it was really interesting to learn the process.  Overall, our conversation was really productive in that we touched on all of the main issues facing the seafood industry.  I also appreciated his perspective as someone who is not directly involved in internationally shipping, but is undoubtedly affected by the industry.  After the formal interview we got a chance to talk about our experiences in China and I was able to talk jobs with him.  I was excited to find out that one of my contacts for this week is someone pretty crucial in the whole industry and that speaking with her could lead to other opportunities.  After the interview I went up to the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a little tour before heading back to Newport.

Most of the weekend was spent relaxing, but also trying to plan the schedule for this week.  I felt a little nervous about going on a business trip, so I wanted to make sure I had everything together.  On Sunday some of us headed up to Alsea to go swimming at Clemens Park (at a VERY cold spot on the Alsea River).  While I’m already done with my first day of interviews, I think that I’ll save recapping the whole week for my next post.  I can’t believe the end of the program is almost here, but I’m excited to put all of my work together and present it soon!

Betty, the contact hunter

In the words of the Carpenters, rainy days and Mondays always get me down.  It’s been gloomy for the past couple of days and I’m starting to miss the heat of Louisiana more than ever.  My office overlooks the Yaquina Bay Bridge and on sunny days it’s lovely, but today it just looks bleh.  But the work must go on!

This past week has been plenty of networking (as usual) and getting started on the outline for my final document.  Initially I felt a little overwhelmed by the thought of composing a document to be published for use by anybody, but with a little guidance I feel I’ll be able to get on the right track to finish by August.  I was finally able to schedule all of my Portland and Tillamook contacts for the last week of July, meaning that I’ll be going on a bit of a road trip soon!  Finding contacts at the Port of Seattle has posed the biggest challenge so far, but I hope that I can get that squared away this week so I can hit Washington on my trip as well.  I had a great phone interview with someone at the Port of Portland who spoke to me about how they secure flights with carriers and the challenges Portland has faced in creating and keeping demand for those flights.  It explains why Seattle and Canada tend to do the largest portion of shipping, especially of live commodities, for Oregon seafood producers.  While I’ve never liked talking on the phone, I have become a lot more accustomed to calling people (especially people I don’t know) and being able to have a productive conversation.  I feel like that’s something that will benefit me throughout my career.

On Friday we had our midsummer check-in, which was great.  We got to learn about what all the other interns are doing and had a conversation about jobs and grad school.  I feel confident that I’ll be able to find something to do once I’m done here this summer, especially with all of the great contacts I’ve made so far.  We volunteered at DaVinci Days on Saturday, which was nice because I got to interact with the public and describe the mission of Sea Grant as well as my own project.  I felt encouraged by the interest the booth produced, as well as the people who came by and listened to us talk about all these different aspects of the organization.  On one or two occasions people even told us that we definitely had great careers ahead of us, which of course made me feel even more confident about landing a job!

This week is all about tying up loose ends and figuring out my Seattle contacts.  I’ll be going to Tillamook on Friday to meet with the owner of a large oyster hatchery, as well as my other adviser.  I hope that by then I’ll have a definitely time schedule for the coming week, making my trip a little less nerve wracking.  And here’s hoping the weather gets a little better!!

Logistics Really Are The Key

I can’t believe another week’s gone by! Today has been a busy day and I nearly forgot about my blog post because I’ve been trying to organize a million different things! But don’t fear— my weekly update is here to inform you about what’s been up!

Last week was a pretty relaxed week, with the promise that the project was about to kick into high gear. While I have one adviser at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, the other is stationed in Tillamook and Portland.  Thus, we must communicate through e-mail and on the phone and it has been difficult to get in touch with him, as he is busy with several projects.  Since he is my link to all my interview contacts, I was starting to get worried after not hearing from him.  However, I got one contact last week.  The owner of Tillamook Bay Boathouse agreed to meet with me on Wednesday morning at his main facility in Garibaldi, OR.  I got to take a rental car (a sleek, black Mazda 3!) up the coast for a beautiful two-hour drive, but as soon as I got to the boathouse I felt a little intimidated.  It was my first interview outside of Newport and with someone I didn’t know very much about.  While I felt a little inadequate, I began speaking to him with confidence about the topic of shipping seafood to the growing Asian market and he became receptive.  I think that as soon as he noticed my interest in the topic, as well as my knowledge about

the methods and barriers of shipping crabs his confidence in my participation in this project grew.

There are many barriers to shipping seafood to China, but the greatest one I’ve seen so far is government regulation of health inspection on these exports.  As the Boathouse’s owner pointed out, having a more efficient inspection system that stations inspectors in locations that have a large number of live seafood exports would not only make it easier for producers, but also create jobs.  In a still recovering economy it is difficult to understand why seafood harvesters can’t fully take advantage of the huge demand for live seafood in Asian countries, but much of it has to do with NOAA’s inspection system.  It requires producers to pay fees that aren’t uniform because of travel expenses that must be factored into the cost of the certificates.  While I spoke with someone from Oregon Department of Agriculture about their attempts to work out a system with NOAA for providing certificates through ODA that are NOAA approved, it will likely be a long time before that will actually be organized.

I was able to tour the Boathouse, see their Dungeness crab holding containers, network to get a few more contacts for my project, and got a complimentary can of Tillamook Bay Boathouse’s Albacore tuna (perks of the job!).  Surprisingly, there aren’t many producers who do what Tillamook Bay Boathouse and Oregon Oyster Farms do in terms of shipping internationally so it’s important to get in touch with any who are.  Also, towards the end of the week I began receiving a slew of contacts from my adviser and had to begin getting in touch with them to plan site visits to the Port of Portland and Port of Seattle, as well as a couple of other locations along the coast.  I’m really starting to see this project take shape and I’m excited to get going on a big interview trip.

This weekend was relaxing and fun.  I made two attempts at crabbing — both unsuccessful!  While it’s mostly a waiting game, I think when I finally get enough for a meal I will feel undoubtedly satisfied.  Also, a few of us took

Taking important phone calls in the office!

a trip down to Florence, OR and went sand boarding at Honeyman National Park—definitely my favorite day trip of the summer.  There was even a lake that was warm enough to jump in.

Anyways, this week should be mostly organizational work.  Getting the logistics together for a multi-city trip (including Portland, Astoria, Seattle, and maybe even Vancouver B.C.) is a little nerve-wracking, especially when you’re going alone, but I’m excited to hear back from my contacts and get the remainder of my interviews squared away.  The end of the week will include a trip to Corvallis for a mid-summer check-in to see what the rest of the crew has been doing this summer, see you there!!

The Government Agency Tango

Hello again! This marks the end of my 3rd week working at Hatfield Marine Science Center. Now that I’m familiar with the environment, my advisers, and the other workers here, I’m definitely falling into a good work routine. This past week was marked with a lot of phone calls to various government agencies—USDA, USDC, NOAA, ODA, etc.—to get clarification on which agency has jurisdiction over what in terms of agriculture and aquaculture. When I called the USDA, my intention was to figure out why they regulate all agricultural products except for seafood. It seems odd to me that aquaculture is not managed by the USDA because it is a growing part of the domesticated food supply in the U.S. I spoke with an information officer for the Food Safety Inspection branch and he explained to me that the USDC was designated as the regulating body for aquaculture and fisheries. The act passed by Congress that put NOAA and the USDC in charge went through in 1946, so I decided to look it up. However, when I read through it I wasn’t able to find a clear statement about what agency was put in charge of seafood regulation. It’s not surprising, but getting to talk to the right person is really difficult. A large portion of the time I spend making calls is just me being connected to one person, then another, then another, then another, then finally someone who can help me. It feels like square dancing—you just have to do-si-do until you land with the right partner.

Another project I began working on last week was getting a comprehensive list of the flights available from the various airports in the Pacific NW, flight times, carriers, etc. I thought this would be a useful addition to the guide we are creating, as it gives people an idea of their shipping options when trying to distribute seafood products internationally. I got to meet with a Sea Grant extension agent who really helped me get a handle on the major issues with transporting live seafood. Being a commercial fisherman as well as a Sea Grant agent, he had much insight on what issues producers are most concerned about. As he pointed out, security is probably the most important thing in terms of shipping internationally. Both the distributor and the buyer are entering into a risky deal when live seafood is involved and new entrants into the market want to know how to protect themselves against that risk. In my opinion, risk is inevitable when you begin in any business but there are a few methods of guarding your business. First, logistics are key if you want to get your product to the end user alive and in good condition. This is something I discussed with the owner of Oregon Oyster Farms and I feel that it’s what makes or breaks a new business in this market. The other important factor is having a good relationship with your distributor/customer. Trust and communication are so important in this business because the product is literally harvested and sent across the world to a buyer who may or may not have even seen one of your oysters or crabs before. Every customer has different standards as well and as a distributor, you must gauge those and meet them.

This week I get to go on another interview, this time at Tillamook Bay Boathouse. Tillamook Bay Boathouse is a retail and wholesale operation that provides fresh seafood on the premises. While on the website it doesn’t appear that they ship internationally, my interview will touch on that. I think an interesting question is why a distributor would choose not to ship internationally and what would help them to get into that market.

In other news, I had a great weekend with a friend from out of town and some of the Sea Granters. We went to a blues festival in Portland and I showed them around to some of my favorite PDX spots. It was beautiful weather all weekend, which has continued into today! I’m looking forward to a productive week and I’ll keep you posted.

Interview Time!

This week was very productive in terms of my project. Like I said before, I’m making a guide to the shellfish industry in Oregon including information about growing and harvesting regulations, licenses and permits, standard shipping practices, etc. Since there hasn’t been much comprehensive research about the topic, it is up to me to interview as many people involved in the industry as possible to get the scoop. It feels a little bit like detective work, which makes it extra alluring. I was really itching to get out in the field with my tape recorder and note pad, when my adviser put me in touch with the owner of Oregon Oyster Farms here in Newport. I called him immediately and set up an appointment to meet with him at the facilities to do an interview and a tour. Needless to say, I was pumped.

When I arrived, I was greeted with enthusiasm and was taken to his office. The interview went great and even when we strayed from the questions written in my outline he provided expert opinions on the way the entire shellfish industry works (he not only grows oysters, but harvests, processes, and ships them internationally, as well as buying other types of seafood from different markets and selling them to his loyal customers). One topic that he was especially helpful with was figuring out what agency has jurisdiction over issuing the health certificates needed for a shipment of shellfish to be exported. In my research there was a little bit of confusion on whether Oregon Department of Agriculture, NOAA, or USDA was the main issuer of these licenses. As it turns out ODA used to issue these certificates for oysters until Chinese companies stopped accepting state issued licenses and instead worked out a deal with NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Currently the system under NOAA is not very uniform and the rest of my week was spent trying to get a hold of someone from the agency to discuss their inspection procedures (no luck yet!). After the interview I got to tour the whole farm and then I got to try some raw Pacific, Kumamoto, and Olympia oysters, which are far superior to those down in my neck of the woods. He even sent me home with a small tub of smoked oysters, so I must have done something right.

The rest of my week was spent transcribing my first interview and then making different phone calls to various agencies trying to get more clarification on licensing and inspection procedures. It has been pretty difficult to get in touch with some of the authorities on the subject, but I will continue to try. Also, my adviser gave me names of two Sea Grant Extension employees who will probably be able to give me a little more information on the industry and guide me on what I should be doing; however, I haven’t heard back from them yet either. But no matter! Perseverance is key in business and policy, so I will push forward.

Anyways, my weekend was pretty great. While there wasn’t much going on at the compound a few of us went out to an Irish pub on Friday and hiking at Drift Creek Falls on Saturday—my shins are still aching (from the hike not the pub!). Sunday was a pretty lazy day, but my roommate and I decided to give clamming another shot since she got her shellfish license. On the walk down there a bird pooped on my windbreaker, a sign that we would have excellent luck. While our luck wasn’t excellent, it wasn’t horrible either. I feel like I have a technique down and now I just need practice. We left with about 10 clams, mostly small ones, but I decided to cook them anyways. I looked up some chowder recipes, but decided to put my own twist on it. Everyone was a little skeptical, but I made believers out of all of them! Here’s the recipe:

Novice Clammer’s Louisiana Clam ChowderTM (adapted from some other, less delicious, chowder recipe)

¼ cup butter
½ cup diced onions →
½ cup diced green pepper → the trinity in Cajun cooking
½ cup diced celery →
3-4 stalks of kale (because its just sitting in your fridge and needs something to do)
¼ cup and 2 T. flour
3 medium red potatoes, or however many your neighbors will give you (thanks Lauren)
8oz. jar clam juice
14.5 oz can vegetable broth, because clam juice is deceptively expensive
However many clams you can find (which, let’s face it, isn’t very many right now)
¼ lb. cod fillet, gotta have some sort of filler for those darn clams!
¼ cup smoked oysters, if

you are lucky enough to be gifted some!
1-2 lemon wedges, more if you aren’t able to get your hands on a Fred Meyer lemon the size of a hand grenade
1 pint of half & half
Salt to taste


Start by melting the butter in a large saucepot. Sautee the trinity and kale in the butter until all the veggies are soft and the onions are transparent, add the flour and stir. Take off the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into small cubes and boil in a small pot for about 15 minutes or until tender, but not falling apart. Drain and set aside. After cleaning your few mostly small to medium clams (or getting someone else to do it for you!) chop them into small bite sized pieces along with the cod and oysers. Bring the clam juice, vegetable broth, all of your meats from the sea, and lemon to a boil in a medium pot, then lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the broth gradually into the vegetable and flour mixture and stir, bringing it up to a slow boil. Lower the heat and add the cooked potatoes, then add the half & half while stirring. Keep on low heat, but don’t bring to a boil again. Serve to skeptical roommates/compound mates and watch as you blow their minds.

Oysters, Crabs, and Clams!


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!