Archive for the ‘Partners’ Category

The work and success of FCEC is made possible by the hard work of our great partners.

Why? Because they know their communities better than we do and can help to make our outreach most effective. BPSOS (formerly Boast People SOS), a community based organization serving the Vietnamese community, is just that kind of organization.
Founded in 1980, BPSOS initially formed as voluntary rescue-at-sea missions, saving over 3,000 people from rough waters as they attempted to boat across the Pacific Ocean from Vietnam to the United States. BPSOS’s mission has since evolved to adapt to changing needs of the community. One area it has been instrumental in is educating the Vietnamese American community about the risks of consuming contaminated fish in Southern California. But its work reaches far beyond California.

Our mission is quite similar to that of FCEC in that we are both seeking to serve an underserved community, says Tiffany Nguyen of BPSOS. Certainly educating the local Vietnamese population about fish contamination is an important and life-changing endeavor. Whether it be our economic or social programs like the work we do with FCEC, individual and cultural enrichment is central to our goals.

In fact, BPSOS claims to have touched the lives of one in every 10 Vietnamese Americans, or 10,000 Vietnamese in the United States annually since its inception. What began as a one staff operation has blossomed into a nationwide network of 18 offices with four locations in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, with more than 140 staffers.

Today, BPSOS spearheads local services for Vietnamese communities that include computer and vocational training, English as a Second Language courses, citizen preparation classes and self-help groups. BPSOS has also played a key role in chronicling an oral history of Vietnamese torture victims.

Together FCEC and BPSOS have coordinated numerous outreach efforts in predominately Vietnamese communities around Southern California, from staffing local events to hosting health fairs. BPSOS’s insight and cultural understanding has been crucial in tailoring FCEC’s environmental message to the Vietnamese American population around which fish to avoid, such as the white croaker.

We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with BPSOS, as the very success of our work depends on it.

Our dinner choices matter, according to Dave Anderson, a marine biologist at Seafood for the Future, a program at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Learn how you can make a difference by being conscientious of what fish you order at your favorite restaurant, among other things. Check out a video showing delicious ways of preparing sustainable seafood.

FCEC: So Dave, tell us a little about Seafood for the Future. What is it exactly? What’s the organization’s mission?

Dave Anderson: Seafood for the Future is a non-profit program of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. We promote sustainable seafood practices among restaurants, wholesalers and distributors. Our goal is to connect the public with healthy, sustainable seafood options. The seafood we choose, if sold at a local restaurant, is marked with our logo of approval so that better choices can be more easily recognized. When a consumer chooses this item, not only will they be ordering the best eco-friendly seafood, they’ll also receive a free ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

FCEC: How many restaurants are you currently working with?

Dave Anderson: Currently we work with 75 restaurants and 12 distributors from Santa Barbara all the way down to San Diego. But those numbers are ever-growing.

FCEC: Why should people care about whether or not they are eating “sustainable” fish?

Dave Anderson: In terms of environmental sustainability, eating the fish we pick helps to better manage our natural resources, which in some cases are in rapid decline. In addition to this, fish resources that are properly managed are often healthier for people to eat. So when we engage chefs directly we are helping to improve their practices: from purchases to preparation, and ultimately the quality of their menus improves.

From right to left, Andrew Gruel and Dave Anderson.

FCEC: How can one’s individual food choices make a positive impact?

Dave Anderson: One’s food choices, especially in the case of seafood, can have an immediate and direct impact, not only for sustainability, but for the entire market place. When sustainable seafood is in high demand, chefs are more likely to make sure to carry such products.

About 80% of our seafood is imported, much of this seafood comes from areas in the world that do not have the same environmental safeguards as the United States. So if their production and harvesting practices are harmful, we aren’t likely to know about it. But when we eat sustainable seafood we ensure that the fishing practices meet our requirements.
FCEC: What are some of the fish that people should look to purchase?

Dave Anderson: Seafood from Alaska, wild Pacific salmon is an easy one to remember. Their stocks are quite healthy up there. Some other easy ones are sardines and mackerel – both of which reproduce fast, making them more environmentally sustainable.

FCEC: What are a few things that are having the greatest impact on threatened fish populations?

Dave Anderson: Two things: fishing pressure and habitat decline. The latter happens with overdevelopment and immediate pressures on the eco-system, such as oil spills.

FCEC: How can people further educate themselves about these issues?

Dave Anderson: First and foremost, people need to pay attention to what it is they are eating. Awareness on every level will help. Once people are aware of where their food comes from, what it is exactly, then they are more likely to make better, healthier food choices. This is where Seafood for the Future and FCEC overlap and seek to achieve the same goal: helping people make better, healthier fish consumption choices.

We talk about fishing and fish contamination here at FCEC quite a bit. We address complex issues, environmental impacts and sustainability. But at the heart of all of this is health, human health to be exact.

When our environment is healthy, we are also more likely to be healthy. That’s why we work hard to educate the public about best practices when it comes to the types of fish people consume.

This weekend join in FCEC’s efforts by supporting our partners at Herald Christian Health Center in San Gabriel between 9 and 11:30 am, where the Center will be hosting a community health fair.

Be on the lookout for FCEC materials which will educate attendees about the risks of consuming contaminated fish. It’s sure to be a healthy and fun event – and we promise you’ll be leaving with plenty of cool (and educational) items to take home with you!

For more information, please visit the FCEC monthly calendar.

*Photo courtesy of SunSentinel.com

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We often talk about good practices here on the FCEC blog like what fish to avoid due to local contamination and how to properly prepare the fish you do catch and take home to eat. However, we

Frankie Orrala is an outreach coordinator and angler educator for Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica based environmental group. Frankie is originally from Ecuador, where he studied biology and fisheries management.

FCEC: Frankie, you help coordinate a lot of angler outreach surveys for FCEC and Heal the Bay. Why is this work such an important part of educating the public about fish contamination?

Frankie Orrala: This work is very important because we warn and inform the angler community about fish contamination and long-term effects of fish consumption if proper precautions are not taken. Many of the anglers plan to eat what they catch, and many of them have never been exposed to the information we disseminate.

FCEC: What kind of information do you gather while at piers where you talk to anglers?

Frankie Orrala: First of all I am interested in their fishing activities. I ask them how they have been doing and what kind of fish they catch. Then I explain in detail the problem of the Palos Verdes Shelf and methods of fish consumption to reduce exposure to contaminants. Finally, I create a working relationship between fishermen and Heal the Bay.

FCEC: What sort of feedback do you get from anglers?

Frankie Orrala: Most of the pier anglers have no idea that there are contaminated fish around the Palos Verdes Shelf and at the end of our intervention they wonder what kind of fish they can eat. Another question we get often is “why are there no signs on the piers that say what fish are not to be eaten”. They are always grateful for the time we spend with them to explain the problem. But signs about proper fish consumption are coming to local piers very soon!

FCEC: What sort of impact do you think this type of outreach has on these anglers?

Frankie Orrala: I’m sure the result is positive, anglers always express their appreciation, and I believe that they follow our recommendations. There is still much to do, our community is very diverse and we must reach all anglers. We need to not only reach anglers from the piers but also the general public who is often unaware of the fish contamination as well.

FCEC: What was your most memorable experience while on the job?

Frankie Orrala: I have had lots of enriching moments with people. There are so many good moments to share that it is hard to say. I remember one day at Venice pier my colleagues and I looked at the sea and saw a lot of dolphins. Everyone froze, including fishermen and tourists. Nobody cared about what they were catching at this point, they only wanted to see a wonderful show, which these marine mammals gave us for several minutes. Another wonderful experience that sometimes happens is when someone catches a large shark at the pier, all of the fishermen unite to help reel it in!

by Sharon Lin
EPA Region 9, Remedial Project Manager

Community outreach and education can be science-based, reduce health risks and be quantitative.

When I first started as the project manager for the Palos Verdes Shelf project 8 years ago, I was a firm believer that only through engineering controls could we actually reduce the risk of exposure to local communities. It was only natural I suppose, as I was schooled and trained in the science and engineering field and had worked as a professional engineer.

This was and continues to be the prevalent thinking, as most of us who work on Superfund sites with the EPA had our training in the engineering and science fields. However, the Palos Verdes Shelf Institutional Controls program has expanded my view and I hope that my experience can aid my colleagues. Through this project, I have rediscovered basic, but

Gabrielle Dorr works as the Outreach Coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On behalf of FCEC, Yolanda Lasmarias and Tiffany Jonick spoke at St. Columban Church in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, June 6th to educate community members about fish contamination. Over 30 adults were in attendance to hear the two speak and over 90 of the program

This Saturday, May 15th, come out and join FCEC