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Fish Factor

Seafood pops, winner of the best new product
By Laine Welch


September 06, 2005

An award winning new seafood product got its inspiration from ice cream push ups, also known as rocket pops.
jpg Laine Welch

Marketed under the Seafood Naturals™ label, the cylinders of seafood come in seven authentic items - lobster, scallops, shrimp, haddock, salmon, crab and monkfish livers, which are a best seller at Japanese sushi bars. "They are 97 percent real seafood, and the rest is all natural additives. So they come out of the tube tasting exactly like the seafood itself," said inventor Monte Rome, co-owner and manager of Intershell International Corp. of Gloucester, Mass. "The materials are steamed and immediately chilled right in the package, so you have a pasteurized product with a shelf life of up to 90 days. You just cut off the top and a pusher disc slides the seafood out of the tube," Rome added.

The seafood pops, winner of the best new product at the International Boston Seafood Show earlier this year, can be eaten hot or cold or used in any number of ways. "They can be sliced up and recooked, baked, sautéedused as an appetizer or in soups or salads, any number of things," Rome said. The product is also great for seafood lovers on the go. "That was one of the original concepts - to create a simple product that could be put in a purse or a lunch box, or to take hiking or on camping trips. It's also great for our people in the military who want a delicious, high protein snack," he added.

The Seafood Naturals come in eight ounce packages for food service, and 5.5 ounces for retail, priced at just $4.59 for tubes of salmon or haddock to $9.99 for lobster. Rome said the rocket pop concept is suitable for any seafood. "It's such a simple formulation because it uses only the fish. It could be put in those tubes right there in a small plant in Alaska," he said.

Rome's company has also developed a seafood breading machine for food service, which is being adapted for home use. Another popular product sold under his Seafood Naturals™ label is a line of Fast Slack frozen foods - thin, two pound sleeves of frozen shrimp, frying clams, squid and scallops. "Unlike big frozen blocks, they defrost almost to order in convenient portions, which helps control costs," he explained.

Monte Rome said he would like very much to expand his product line with Alaska salmon and pollock. Contact him at (978) 281-2523 or via email at

HATS OFF TO OUR OLDEST INDUSTRY - Labor Day marks a meaningful time to recognize our nation's oldest industry - commercial fishing. It is also our world's last remaining and only hunter/gatherer industry for a wild food resource. Federal figures estimate that the U.S. seafood industry directly employs more than 250,000 Americans, and produces food and other products that contribute roughly $33 billion dollars to the U.S. economy each year. The latest available numbers from two years ago show that landings of fish and shellfish from all 50 states totaled 9.5 billion pounds, valued at $3.3 billion. More than half of that - 5.5 billion pounds - came from Alaska. Here is an interesting statistic- the average price paid to American fishermen in 2003 based on all catches was 35 cents a pound, up two cents from the year before.

Other seafood facts show that total purchases by seafood lovers in 2003 topped $62 billion, up 12 percent from the year before. Most of that - $42 billion - was purchased at restaurants. In all, it's estimated that Americans eat roughly five billion pounds of seafood each year, and that number is growing. Each person ate a record 16.3 pounds of seafood in 2003, a four percent increase from the previous year. America's favorites remain largely the same with shrimp topping the list as the most popular seafood, followed by canned tuna, salmon and pollock.


It will be a few more weeks before catch quotas are released for Alaska's largest crab fisheries - red king crab at Bristol Bay and Bering Sea opilio, more commonly called snow crab. Based on the summer trawl surveys, numbers for large male king crab appear to be down a bit, after ticking upwards for several years. That's prompting speculation that the king crab harvest might dip to between eight and 10 million pounds when the fishery opens next month, compared to more than 14 million pounds last year.

Conversely, survey numbers of snow crab were more positive, showing an increase of larger crab. Numbers of small crabs recruiting into the fishery also appear to be on an upswing. This is consistent with what crabbers have been seeing in their pots in the past two seasons. Industry is speculating that the snow crab catch could top 30 million pounds this year, making it one of the largest in the past six years. This past January, the snow crab quota was just over 19 million pounds.

Under the new rationalized management plan, crabbers lucky enough to own shares of the catch can drop pots at a leisurely pace. Both crab fisheries will open on October 15th - the Bristol Bay red king crab season will run through mid-January (compared to just 80 hours last year), and the snow crab fishery will last through May 15 in the eastern Bering Sea and through May 31 in the western region. Each fisherman has the option of catching his crab quota at any time during the extended seasons.

The first crab landings under the new management scheme were offloaded last week at Dutch Harbor amidst some grumbling. The vessel Erla N delivered 150,000 pounds of golden king crab (that fishery opened in mid-August) and received $2.50 a pound at the docks. That compares to an average price of $3.25 for the past five years. Skipper Chad Hoefer said he also had leased crab quota from other share holders. He told KIAL/Unalaska: "At a lease rate of 50 percent, that means a half cut in pay for the same amount of crab."

On a related note, fishery managers will announce any day whether or not crabbers in Southeast Alaska will have a red king crab season in November, along with the results of an independent assessment of the region's crab survey methods.


Tucked away in a in a Boston lab are paper thin sheets of dried seaweed, called porphyra, better known as nori. It's the same stuff used to wrap sushi rolls. The nori belongs to researcher Donald Cheney at Northeastern University, who has transformed the seaweed into a super sponge that can sop up and neutralize toxic wastes in fresh or salt water. Cheney developed the super seaweed three years ago at the request of the U.S. Navy, which wanted to use it to detoxify leftover TNT seeping from unexploded bombs at its coastal training sites. Cheney calls the seaweed one of nature's best aquatic clean up tools. He believes such marine phyto-remediation can scrub everything from polluted waters, including wastes from coastal fish farms. But, there's just one catch - the nori is genetically modified and it is against U.S law to let the seaweed or any such items loose in the environment. As an end run around that restriction, Cheney told the Christian Science Monitor he has developed a natural version of the nori that is almost as effective as the "franken-weed."


Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. Her weekly Fish Factor column appears in a dozen newspapers and web outlets. Her daily Fish Radio programs air on 25 stations around the state. Laine lives in Kodiak.

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