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Nicholls Seafood Institute
Nicholls to get money for seafood institute
By Daniel McBride
THIBODAUX — More than $325,000 has been set aside in the federal government’s latest spending bill to help create a seafood institute at Nicholls State University.
Related Links:Agreement on oyster ban more likely Panel: Lawmakers should give up control over La. college tuition U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the planned Institute for Seafood Studies would aid studies of seafood species, coastal restoration and protection, as well as development of local fisheries and industries connected to them.
A Senate and House conference committee agreed Tuesday on an appropriations bill that includes $45.9 million for Louisiana projects overall placed there by Landrieu, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Many of the projects in the bill are the result of competitive grant proposals.
The House and Senate could approve the measure during the next several days. The bill would then head to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.
The institute is designed to work hand-in-hand with the state’s commercial seafood industry, said biology professor Marilyn Kilgen.
For Kilgen, who has been pushing the project for years, it is a validation of the state’s importance as a seafood-producing powerhouse.
“Other states have some type of research institute, those states that have a seafood industry,” Kilgen said. “We supply a third of the nation’s seafood. It’s a huge industry here. We need to have an institute for seafood studies.”
The next step, Kilgen said, is bureaucratic. There will be a lot of forms to fill out and questions to answer, and it may be months before the money materializes.
The planned institute’s research will focus on scientific and biological problems faced by the industry.
Mike Voisin, vice president of Motivatit Seafood in Houma and chairman of the Gulf Oyster Task Force, said the research center could help develop new products. He mentioned the cold-storage facility developed by the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority, which he said could team up with the research center to test innovative ideas.
“This could aid in the expansion of that” by analyzing the viability of potential products, he said.
Another problem the research institute could address is food safety, which Voisin said is a top fear among consumers.
“This will enable the seafood community, working with the seafood institute, to help allay those concerns,” he said.
Kilgen said efforts to build a seafood institute began in earnest in late 2005, following Hurricane Katrina. Her experience establishing marine-related programs, dating back to 1988 with the National Shellfish Indicator study, helped her draw attention to Louisiana’s need for a seafood-research
“It is vital,” she said. “Other states that don’t have a fraction of our production of seafood have those.”
Voisin said the institute is a perfect match for Nicholls, citing the university’s connections to local business and industry.
Staff Writer Daniel McBride can be reached at 850-1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BayouSchools.
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