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Seafood Industry Research Fund 

A 501(c)3 organization established in 1964

Russ Mentzer
Dear Seafood Industry Professional,

Welcome to the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) newsletter! Here you can find quarterly updates on SIRF's activities, current research and funding information. Through your generous support, SIRF provides the seafood community with scientific studies that further business and improve the bottom line. Read in this newsletter how SIRF is linking industry and academia with articles on the SIRF's 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner, GFTC's Seafood Traceability Financial Tool and the Health Benefits of Selenium in Seafood.    


We could not fund exciting research without your support. Thank you for your continued contributions. To view past SIRF sponsored research, please visit  and contact us with any questions you may have



Russ Mentzer, Chairman

Seafood Industry Research Fund

Current Events
SIRF's 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner 

SIRF will host its 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner on Sunday, 25 January 2015. Occurring during the National Fisheries Institutes' 2015 Global Seafood Market Conference, the Benefit Dinner will be held at the Mastro's Ocean Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attendees can look forward to a festive evening celebrating seafood research and its supporters.


"The SIRF Benefit Dinner has grown from an idea, to a reality, to a success in record time," said SIRF Chairman Russ Mentzer. "Last year's eager donations demonstrate the value seafood professionals place on SIRF's mission and we are excited to have a repeat in 2015."


The inaugural Benefit Dinner raised over $100,000 in donations and was attended by the seafood industry's foremost leaders. 2015 promises to capitalize on last year's achievements with an exciting new venue, menu and speaker- all among the glittering lights of Vegas.


Please save the date and plan on attending SIRF's 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner for an evening benefiting seafood research. For details on attending, please contact a SIRF board member or Geraldine

January 25, 2015

Mastro's Ocean Club

3720 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Las Vegas, Nevada 89158

The Global Food Traceability Center Launches Seafood Traceability Financial Tool

In September, the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) announced the launch of their Seafood Traceability Financial Tool. Through a straightforward and interactive program, the tool demonstrates to seafood businesses the economic impact of implementing traceability measures. Seafood companies utilizing the free, online tool input variables specific to their businesses, such as industry segment, revenue, current traceability level, and are given a forecast of return on traceability investment.


Founded in 2013, the GFTC convenes key stakeholders in the food system to collaborate on traceability solutions and serve as an authority on food traceability. The National Fisheries Institute participates on the GFTC Advisory Council as one of eleven founding co-sponsors through funds made available by SIRF. An early supporter of the center, SIRF has identified traceability as a key issue in seafood and  views their investment as a direct benefit to the industry


Steve Mavity (Bumble Bee Seafoods), NFI's representative to the GFTC Advisory Council, supports the creation of the Seafood Traceability Financial Tool.


"Traceability, especially within seafood, is becoming pivotal to ensuring a quality, safe product," said Mavity. "I am glad to see GFTC dedicate one of their first projects exclusively to seafood traceability with a tool that highlights the importance and potential bottom line value of traceability."


Seafood companies and organizations of all size are encouraged to use the tool while smaller firms that may not have the resources for a detailed analysis will find it especially helpful. To use the financial too, click on the picture or follow the link:


Selenium Communication

Have you had your selenium today? Dr. Nick Ralston wants to know. As a research scientist with the University of North Dakota, Dr. Ralston is one of a handful in the scientific community researching and educating on the health benefits of selenium in seafood.

Dr. Nick Ralston, SIRF Researcher

"Everyone knows about mercury in seafood," said Dr. Ralston. "But not enough people know about selenium in seafood. Selenium is needed to protect the brain from harm, and it may contribute to the 4-6 point improvement in the I.Q.'s of children whose mothers eat ocean fish. Fish are among the best dietary sources of selenium, and this is a story that needs to be told."


In the ongoing dialogue of seafood nutrition, mercury has hogged the headlines, impeding seafood consumption with a muddle of misinformation based on mistaken assumptions. Dr. Ralston understands the confusion surrounding mercury because he initially experienced it himself.


Performing research in selenium physiology, Dr. Ralston saw the impairing effects of mercury on important activities of selenium in the brain, an understanding that originally caused him to believe media reports indicating brain damage in children whose mother's ate seafood during pregnancy. Realizing few other scientists would be aware of the importance of selenium and its central role in the mercury issue, he switched careers and began studying seafood health effects through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant.


A closer analysis of the historical incidents and further research on seafood's elemental composition, however, led to a more nuanced grasp of the mercury-selenium relationship and a reversal of thinking for Ralston.


"In looking at the two main studies where mercury exposures from seafood consumption were associated with harmful effects, I found that they had been conducted on populations that consumed apex predators," said Ralston.


"They were eating considerable amounts of pilot whale and shark which are at the top of the ocean food chain and therefore have much higher levels of mercury and deficient amounts of selenium."




What is selenium, anyway?


Just like oxygen causes metal to rust, oxygen which the brain needs to survive, can cause serious harm if not processed correctly. (For example, aging is primarily the result of oxidative damage). Selenium enables an elite group of enzymes to not only prevent, but also reverse oxidative damage in the brain. Mercury, however, binds with selenium, and if the amount of mercury is high enough, it can prevent selenium from performing its role within these enzymes resulting in brain damage. Dr. Ralston likens this interaction to personal finance.


"When we eat ocean fish, it is like receiving bills and paychecks in the mail," says Ralston. "The bill is analogous to the mercury and the paycheck is like the selenium we need to survive. The majority of seafood items we eat are rich in selenium, containing amounts far exceeding their mercury levels."


Our bodies can easily pay off small mercury debts when we are getting a gold-rush of selenium. However, "selenium bankruptcy" can occur when mercury intakes exceed our selenium income. From this perspective, the harmful effects of eating shark or pilot whale meats are easy to understand, as are the benefits of eating ocean fish which are rich in selenium. Based on what we now know, eating typical varieties of ocean fish doesn't contribute to causing mercury toxicity, it prevents it.


Dr. Ralston strongly believes that the scientific community needs to communicate this improved understanding of the mercury issue to physicians, dieticians and other professionals that advise the public about prenatal nutrition. With a proven correlation between a seafood-rich diet during pregnancy and higher I.Q. levels in children, the facts on mercury and selenium need to be set straight to make healthier mothers and smarter babies. Through a SIRF grant, Dr. Ralston will do just that by publishing his seafood-health findings in widely-read scientific journals.


The scientific community has already shown signs of responding to Dr. Ralston's selenium message as seen most recently at the EPA's National Forum on Contaminants in Fish. The biennial conference, held last month in Alexandria, VA, examines issues related to fish contamination and featured several discussions on selenium and its health merits. One of the main accomplishments of the conference was the general acknowledgement that ocean fish consumption during pregnancy improves child I.Q. instead of diminishes it. We now understand why.


With a little help from SIRF, Dr. Nick Ralston will continue spreading the good word about selenium, seafood's unsung story. 

Issue Date


October 2014

Quick Links
Robert Paul Brubaker Passes Away

Former King and Prince Seafood C.E.O, Robert Paul Brubaker, 79, died in his home on St. Simons Island Sunday July 6, 2014 in the arms of his wife, Carol Brubaker, following a lengthy illness. 

Brubaker was active with the National Fisheries Institute from 1981 to 1992, serving as Chairman. In 2006, the Fisheries Scholarship Fund, now the Seafood Industry Research Fund, honored Brubaker's contribution to the seafood industry by establishing the Robert Paul Brubaker Living Tribute Fund.
Ethel Feigon Memorial Fund
Ethel Feigon, the former President of Central Seaway Company (Censea), passed away on March 9th, 2013 in Sarasota, Florida. 
Her husband Gershon Feigon founded Censea in 1960. After Gershon's passing, Ethel Feigon ran the company well into her 80's increasing revenues tenfold. 
To donate click here.

Michael Voisin
Memorial Fund
In 2013, the SIRF Board of Directors established a fund commemorating the late Mike Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafoods, Inc. 
Mike Voisin passed away in Houma, LA February 2, 2013 of complications arising from a heart attack.

Please consider supporting SIRF research through the Mike Voisin fund.

To donate click here.
More About Donations

SIRF's research and operating funds come entirely from generous donations made by individuals and corporations who support our mission of sponsoring scientific research of immediate and practical use by the seafood industry. Visit our website for details about open funds and information about making donations.  




About SIRF


The Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF) was established in 1964 and was originally named the Fisheries Scholarship Fund. It is a tax exempt, philanthropic, educational organization.  


SIRF is supported entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals and companies in and related to the seafood industry.


Click here to learn more about how the fund supports research of interest to the seafood industry.   


We appreciate the opportunity to share information about SIRF, our research funds and projects and thank you for your support!

SIRF Board of Directors

Quick Links
2014 June Newsletter
2014 February Newsletter
2013 September Newsletter
2013 June Newsletter
2013 April Newsletter