Fish profiling to stop ANS; dye test for fish disease; reauthorization

November 20, 2002

FISH PROFILING MAY HELP PREVENT FUTURE GREAT LAKES INVASIONS

Suspect profiling is a commonly used technique in the fight against crime. Now, according to a study reported in the November 8th issue of the journal Science, scientists are using species profiling to help prevent further introductions of invasive fish into the Great Lakes and other waterways.

"Once an invasive species becomes established in a new environment, its impact often is irreversible," said David Lodge, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant researcher and a biologist at the University of Notre Dame. "If we knew which ones would be likely to present problems in the future, we could focus our efforts on preventing those particular species from taking hold," said Lodge, who is a member of the Federal Invasive Species Advisory Committee.

To provide some answers, Lodge and fellow researcher Cindy Kolar, developed a risk-assessment "decision tree" that environmental agencies and managers can use to predict possible culprits of tomorrow. This computer model correctly identified nuisance fish with a high degree of accuracy.

Using data from as far back as the glacial age, the researchers gathered information on a range of species characteristics to identify those that are likely to be adaptive in new environments. "Introduced species that are successful have several traits in common," said Lodge. "More so than unsuccessful invaders, they tolerate a wide range in temperature and salinity. These fishes are also smaller at maturity and have higher reproduction rates."

By applying the profiles to fishes that have not yet been introduced to the Great Lakes, Lodge and Kolar have identified 22 species that one-day may pose problems. With this sort of information, prevention efforts can be targeted. "An immediate rapid response to a species that is a likely threat even if it is fairly expensive might save a great deal of money and effort, and reduce environmental effects, down the road," said Lodge.

CONTACT: David Lodge, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Research Scientist, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Notre Dame, Phone: 574-631-6094, Email: david.m.lodge.1@nd.edu.

SEA GRANT RESEARCHERS FIND NEW METHOD FOR DETECTING FISH SKIN DISEASES

North Carolina Sea Grant researchers have discovered that a fluorescent dye can be used to assess the health of fish. The scientists found that fluorescein, a nontoxic dye that glows in the dark, can be used to detect the presence of skin diseases in all types of fish, including rainbow trout, channel catfish, goldfish and hybrid striped bass.

"Fluorescein has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and highly sensitive way of detecting skin damage in fish," says Ed Noga, professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Skin infections are the most common maladies affecting both cultured and wild fish. Some type of skin damage affects virtually every fish population at one time or another. This test can be used by anyone who works with fish, including the aquaculture industry, aquariums and pet stores."

This is the first time that researchers have used fluorescein for detecting skin ulceration in fish. Currently, the dye is commonly used to detect ophthalmic lesions, such as cornea ulceration in humans and animals. It also has been used as a trace in clinical studies of ocular blood flow or angiography.

The use of this test would be particularly important for the aquaculture industry where fish are reared under very high stocking densities, offering potential for disease outbreaks. In North Carolina alone, aquaculture enterprises were estimated to be worth nearly $21 million in 2001, and nationally aquaculture's economic impact is currently estimated at $5.6 billion annually. The study is appearing in the November issue of Veterinary Pathology.

CONTACT: Ed Noga, North Carolina Sea Grant Research Scientist, Professor Aquatic Medicine, North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Phone: 919-513-6236; Email: ed_noga@ncsu.edu.

SEA GRANT REAUTHORIZATION, CLEARS CONGRESS; AWAITS PRESIDENT'S SIGNATURE

On Tuesday, November 12, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a H.R. 3389, the Sea Grant reauthorization bill, by a voice vote, sending it to President George W. Bush for signature. The bill reauthorizes the National Sea Grant College Program within NOAA. This followed Senate approval of the bill on October 11. The bill would authorize $60 million for FY 2003 increasing to $85 million by 2008. In addition to these amounts, the bill would authorize an additional $5 million for zebra mussels, $5 million for oyster disease, $5 million for algal blooms, and $3 million for fishery extension each year.

The bill would require Sea Grant programs to be evaluated to determine which programs are best managed and carry out the highest quality research, education, extension and training activities and programs would be placed into one of five categories based on this evaluation. Funding increases above that appropriated for FY 2003 would, in part, be allocated based on this review. However the two best performing categories would be limited to no more than 25% of all Sea Grant programs. The National Academy of Sciences would evaluate this rating process within 3 years, to consider its effectiveness and make recommendations for changes as needed. (Report Courtesy of CORE).

CONTACT: Rick DeVoe, Sea Grant Association President, Phone: 843-727-2078, Email: devoe@scseagrant.org.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE NAMES THREE NEW SEA GRANT REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS

Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans has appointed three new members of the National Sea Grant Review Panel by. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The new members are: Elbert "Joe" W. Friday, Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate, National Research Council; John A. Knauss, NOAA administrator from 1989-1993 and one of the founders of the National Sea Grant College Program; and John T. Woeste, dean and professor emeritus, University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. They were swore in by retired Navy Vice. Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The 15-member Sea Grant Review Panel was established in 1976 and is authorized by statute to advise the Secretary of Commerce, the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA), and the Sea Grant Director (NOAA) on the direction, operations, and performance of the National Sea Grant College Program.

CONTACT: Jana Goldman, NOAA Research Public Affairs, 301-713-2483.

Sea Grant Calendar Spotlight: November 20, 2002 - November 24, 2002, 6th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration, Charleston, SC

This conference, sponsored by the South Carolina Sea Grant consortium, will provide an opportunity for government officials, resource managers, and users to discuss approaches to restore coastal ecosystems through habitat quality assessment and restoration; stock enhancement, management, restoration; and habitat remediation through watershed management. For further information contact Elaine Knight, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, 843-727-2078, Email: Elaine.Knight@scseagrant.org or visit the conference website: http://www.scseagrant.org/icsr.htm/.

Sea Grant is a nationwide network of 30 university-based programs that works with coastal communities and is supported by NOAA. Sea Grant research and outreach programs promote better understanding, conservation, and use of America's coastal resources. For more information about Sea Grant visit the Sea Grant Media Center Website at: http;//www.seagrantnews.org, which includes on-line keyword searchable database of academic experts in over 30 topical areas.
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National Sea Grant College Program

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