Delta Dispatches: Coastal Challenges & the Best of Bycatch
On today’s show Simone talks with the Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Dr. Robert Twilley about The Louisiana Sea Grant Programs working individually and in partnership to address major marine and coastal challenges.
Pepper Bowen, Director of Culinaria stops by to talk with Simone about how through legal research and policy analysis, Culinaria Center reviews and addresses a wide range of local, national, and global food policy topics and issues and seeks solutions in support of a food system that is integral to improved health outcomes, sustainable environmental goals, and real community development and also their event, “Best of The Bycatch” on June 20th at The Southern Food & Beverage Museum.
Below is a transcript of this week’s Delta Dispatches Podcast. Listen to the full recording here or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and Google Play.
Simone: Hello. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife, and jobs, and why restoring it matters. This is Simone Maloz from Restore or Retreat. Welcome back. This week Jacques Hebert has left me. I have certainly stood him up several times and have made him go the show alone, so this time it’s my turn. Jacques is on a well-deserved vacation but we would definitely miss him. Just a reminder. Last week we had a great show with our friends and partners from South Wings. They are a volunteer organization and they are still looking for volunteer pilots.
If you missed that podcast or you want to find out more information about being a volunteer pilot for them and more about their organization, please go to mississippiriverdelta.org/deltadispatches to listen to our past episodes not just on South Wings but also to subscribe to our weekly podcast, which come on iTunes and Google Play. Also another reminder that we have an action alert out. Louisiana’s coast is facing some devastating cuts in the next budget. For the past several years the administration has threatened to take away our share of federal offshore revenues which we know as GOMESA. That is allocated to Louisiana and the other energy-producing states, but just like the past years we’re trying to take a stand against it and to make sure that they understand that this money is too important to Louisiana’s future.
If you want to take action on that, you can also go to mississippiriverdelta.org/get-involve/takeaction and you can provide some information to your legislators there. Also before we move forward we certainly want to think about Steve Scalise, our congressman and our leader. He has certainly taken a stance on coastal issues, and we just want to say that we’ve been thinking about him and we wish him and others involved a speedy recovery. We’re going to get right to it today because we have two very, very interesting guests. One is an old friend of mine from long ago. Dr. Robert Twilley of Louisiana Sea Grant is on with us. Robert and I are going to have to make sure that we talk not like we’re on the phone, which would be a whole different conversation, but make sure that we understand that we have an audience listening to us. We talk about lots of things on the phone, right Robert?
Robert: That’s gossip. Come on.
Simone: We also are fortunate enough to have with us later in the show Pepper Bowen from our bycatch event that we’re going to be having later next week, and so we’re going to talk to her more about that event and about their work over there. Let’s get to the guest at hand, Dr. Robert Twilley. I’m going to read a little bit bio about you, Dr. Twilley. In case you don’t know, Dr. Twilley is the executive director of Louisiana Sea Grant College. He’s also over at LSU. He’s a professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. I know him from long ago. He is also a huge part of the Coastal Sustainability Studio that he founded back in 2009. We’ll talk about that. Definitely has some ties to ULL throughout the years and a whole bunch of other very fascinating life experiences. Dr. Twilley, I am very glad to have you, finally, on the show with us. Welcome.
Robert: Thanks, Simone. This is a great pleasure.
Simone: Yeah. We do go back. I’ve been executive director for Restore or Retreat and I’ve known you ever since then. I read your bio, but why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your background is and what connects you to our coast?
Robert: Oh, wow.
Simone: Make it short. This is only an 8-minute segment.
Robert: I’ll tell you. I interviewed at UL Lafayette had a position opened up, and I interviewed because it was the expansion of LUMCON. Don Bosch actually was executive director, called up the University of Maryland, was calling around different marine labs and asking for: “Have you got any post-docs or any PhD students looking for a position?” I was finishing up my post-doc at Horn Point Lab up on Chesapeake Bay. I applied and traveled down for the interview and when I interviewed, there was … The building was just being finished.
Simone: We talked about the LUMCON building the other day, when it was built and how it was built, so that’s interesting that you were there then.
Robert: Well, actually, we know when we’re driving. I did my seminar over in Lafayette over at UL Lafayette, or USL at the time. When we were driving down to LUMCON, we stopped in Loreauville so I could see the Acadiana was still in the boatyard. Steve Radway took me over to see The Pelican and we went around the building, we traveled on scaffolding up to see the building. It was just so exciting.
Another little tidbit about that trip, when I flew in, I flew into New Orleans from Baltimore, and at that time there was a flight from New Orleans to Lafayette, and I flew at night. My first trip ever really being down in the Mississippi River Delta. You could see the river at night. We were just flying along the river basically, and all the refineries, all the lights and so forth. It was quite a fascinating flight. They don’t do that anymore.
Simone: Well clearly we didn’t hook you on our weather and humidity, so it must have been that night flight, right?
Robert: Actually I think the interview was in November–
Simone: Well there was a reason why they brought you then and not later.
Robert: Exactly. I started in January 1986. First class I was teaching the spring semester. I had very strong connections immediately to the coast, although I did not really work much in the coast when I first started. I was a mangrove ecologist, and actually got a really big project with USAID, Agency for International Development, and worked five or six years in Ecuador. Then in Columbia, all kinds of places. I worked in [inaudible 00:06:57] Bay and I did a little bit of work in coastal Louisiana, but not a whole lot, it wasn’t my focus at my first ten, 15 years. I first got introduced and they were forming the framework development team for the Louisiana Coastal Area.
Simone: Wow, there you go, LCA. We’ve talked about it on the show before.
Robert: They wanted a scientist from the southwest part of the state. I guess my geography helped plant me in a chair around the table. I sat on that team, Denise was on it. Getting involved with LCA … I had just finished working with the World Bank and we had just finished designing, building, and we had actually been studying a couple of years … World Bank built three river diversions on the Magdalena River to restore the delta. I was involved with that. So I came in with the framework development team fresh off having been involved with river diversion projects down in Columbia. I haven’t … I’ve been involved ever since. That was I think in 2000, was when that first framework development team was formed.
Simone: Yeah, yeah. We’ve talked about that on the show, that before we had master plans and it was Coast 2050 and then something like LCA, and we talked about when I first started at Restore Retreat they had just signed the chief’s on LCA. That happened so I started January 3rd or something, I think they signed that January 31st, the colonel at the time they had a big signing ceremony. We all know what happened after that, right? That was the event for you.
Robert: You’re exactly right. That LCA, of course the Coast 2050 was a very important document. The LCA document, you’re right, January of 2005 we signed that document, chief engineer’s report. That allowed us within 18 months to put, sort of on the street if you will, the first master plan of 2007. We would never have been able to jumpstart that process without the LCA experience, without a doubt.
Simone: Great. We want to talk about that when we come back, we do have to take a short little break. We want to get into those plans, we want to get into your current work, we really want to talk about Sea Grant and we want to talk about the future of Sea Grant, too. So hang on with us Robert, we’ll be back with Delta Dispatches after the break.
Simone: Welcome back to Delta Dispatches, this is Simone Maloz of Restore or Retreat. I am missing my partner in crime, Jacques Herbert of Audubon, Louisiana, but we are fortunate enough to have Dr. Robert Twilley with us, executive director of Louisiana Sea Grant. We’re here every Thursday on 990 WGSO and online through our new podcast. You can listen to this interview, and all of our others online on the Mississippi River Delta page, or subscribe to iTunes or Google Play.
Welcome back Robert, thank you for hanging with us. It’s always a little dicey if our guests decide to stay or not. So thank you for staying with us. We were just finishing up talking about how little Robert Twilley got to coastal Louisiana when he was in his youth and all those long, long years ago. But we want to talk about some of your more current work. I know you through your work with America’s Wetlands and certainly through some of your work with the Morganza Task Force. But most importantly something that you started, The Coastal Sustainability Studio at LSU. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that concept, and y’all have been around for a couple of years now, right? So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that.
Robert: Yes, we have, about 2009. The origin of that was, of course it was a post-Katrina concept. We talk about the 2007 master plan as the first master plan with CPRA, there was another planning exercise, which was called Louisiana Speaks, and that was the original plan. Peter Calthorpe came out, they hired Peter from California. It was fascinating, I had contracts to support both efforts. Both to help try to figure what kind of wetland area we could rebuild with different restoration techniques. Then we would take those results and put them in the regional plan of where we put highways, where we put people, where we put infrastructure. The complement between the two plans was superb. But that also, I remember it right when we finished, Peter said “Well, you know Robert, you’ve got to a build an institution that can keep this moving forward.”
That’s where CSS started. The whole concept was we needed to build the approaches to infrastructure, not only green infrastructure but we need to understand housing, we need to understand transportation, we need to understand industry need. So it was really the infrastructure of both human infrastructure, if you will, and nature, and how to put them together. It’s a combination of engineering, coastal science, and architecture. That’s the three, I guess legs that to the table, that drive the studio. That’s how we started.
Simone: Yeah, and y’all really have, you know landscape architecture, y’all have all these different disciplines that all have a hand in coastal work. It seems crazy that nobody had put those together, but it’s a good thing that y’all did. Tell us some about–
Robert: We brought from that a joint program here at LSU, Coastal and Ecological Engineering. It’s been, again, this whole idea of driving these disciplines together to solve these problems.
Simone: Any work that we may recognize or any work that we could go see as a result of the sustainability studio? I see it, but maybe others would be interested in it as well.
Robert: And so we have a website. As you know the change in course was a major event that we all worked and that really was something we did within the studio, we’re very proud of, is the product we generated through those efforts. Then we’ve been … The Louisiana Recovery Assistance Program, called LRAT, where next week we’re hosting the third or fourth series of mayor institutes.
Robert: Was a great, great fan and great participant. We just lock up mayors, put them in a room, they bring their projects, and then we help them evaluate their project through the lens of the studio. How are you bringing all the different elements together? Both the wetlands and the infrastructure, and ecological engineering, an etc. It’s a lot of fun.
Simone: Cool, cool. So their Twitter is @LSUCSS, you can see some of their work, their initiatives that they’re working. But something else that you work on is Louisiana Sea Grant. Correct?
Robert: Well, you know, I’ve been doing it for four years, I guess moving into my fifth year. I followed in the shoes of Chuck Wilson, who was only the second Sea Grant director. Jack was the first Sea Grant, and in fact Jack is nearly one of the longest serving Sea Grant directors in the network.
Robert: Louisiana Sea Grant, depending on whether you use the date of our grant or when we actually became an official college, we’re about 45 years in existence. The National Sea Grant program has celebrated its 50th anniversary, 50th year anniversary.
Simone: Y’all have some cool pictures about y’all history, right? Signing the document and some things like that, I’ve seen that before.
Robert: That’s right. A little footnote is Louisiana Sea Grant, there are 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide, Louisiana Sea Grant was the 13th Sea Grant program that actually came online, it’s sort of fitting. We were a large group of us, around 1965, 1968, somewhere in that area was when the Sea Grant program started here in Louisiana.
Simone: So y’all have several focus areas for Sea Grant, there’s some main things that y’all focus on, its healthy ecosystems and habitats, resilient communities and economies, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, education and work force development. Tell us about some of those initiatives, and certainly want to talk about some of your Sea Grant agents. Not to be confused with secret agents, like Wendell likes to say.
Robert: We’ve got quite a history … Jerome Zeringue–
Simone: Ah, yes, that’s right, we’ve talked about that with him. He was on earlier.
Robert: –actually Ted Falgoust was our first Sea Grant agent.
Simone: Yes, yes. Wow, you are name dropping all the oldies but goodies.
Robert: When we initiated the marine extension program, he was our first hire. The Sea Grant program, the model is like the Land Grant program. It’s centered around working with universities and generating research, and then extending that research down into the community, so we’re very strong on extension service. Then we have a very strong education … Mainly working with teachers. That’s our program. I sort of talk about it that we try to … Our mission is to get university content into communities, to help solve problems. It puts value of our university research. It’s not just LSU. We work with universities across the state and we fund research. Our real strength is our extension activities and that’s done through nine offices across the state. We have office there in Houma, and–
Simone: You better.
Robert: –in New Orleans, and down in Plaquemine. In those offices are our Sea Grant agents. They live in the communities, so they, you know when presentations are made and we go down in those communities, when we leave there’s someone still there that can follow up and work with the community. That’s a major … Most of our offices are co-located with the LSU Ag center extension offices. That’s how we’re actually fund our program with the small funds that we get from NOAA.
You’re right, we have four focus areas, and a lot of our work started out … Actually funded the first studies on the evolution or on the development of the Atchafalaya Delta back in the early 70’s. Now we do much more community resilience, but our mainstay has always our fishing industry.
Simone: We want to talk about that a little bit more Robert, if you hold on just a second, we have to go to one more break. We want talk a little bit more about that specific work if you’ll hang on with us just one more break, we want to finish up, and then we want to talk about some changes maybe coming to the Sea Grant program. So hold on, okay.
You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990, we’ll be back.
This is Simone Maloz with Delta Dispatches, welcome back. We’re here every Thursday on 990 WGSO, talking about Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife, and why it matters. We are so fortunate, through one more segment, Dr. Robert Twilley, where you have too many good things going that we want to talk about them all. Let’s finish talking about Sea Grant a little bit. You do have extension agents in several coastal towns, you have quite a few efforts. Do you want to talk about anything in particular that y’all are working on? Or maybe where they can find more information.
Robert: Yes. One of the most important, I think one of the largest programs we have right now is called Louisiana Fisheries Forward. It’s an effort and partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The whole concept is to build higher quality in our seafood products to get a better price on the market so that we build more sustainable fishing businesses. These are small businesses across the coast and very much affected by the market. We’re doing training, we’re helping with gear technology, we’re helping with freezing and product development on the boat, in the processing plants. We’re working with chefs so that we can have the whole, what we call cold chain management, and that is getting it from the boat to the market and helping the fishermen get a better price. That’s a very large program, and something I’m very proud of and our agents do a great job.
Simone: You should be proud of it, today’s kind of a fisheries themed show, we’re lucky enough to have Pepper Bowen with us, they have an Asian carp event next week, she does a lot of other cool things too.
Robert: I’m sure Congressman Higgins will be glad to hear that.
Simone: Where can we get more information about Sea Grant, Robert?
Robert: Seagrant.lsu is our website. If you just Google Louisiana Sea Grant, our website is probably the best place to find what we’re doing and it will list all the different programs, activities, our extension service activities. Also, for students, it’s our student opportunities, for faculty, what our research opportunities. How we actually intersect with all those different sectors. It all combines and moves through our website. That’s really the best way to interact with us. You can always call my office as well.
Simone: Yeah laseagrant.org, their Twitter is @LASeaGrant. You have a Twitter too, do you know it?
Robert: Yeah, @rrtwilley.
Simone: Yay, good for you. So two things before we close out with you, then move on to Pepper. One, you won an award, big deal recently, yes? You had your mom with you.
Robert: Oh thanks.
Simone: That’s it, that’s all you gotta say about it? Congratulations.
Robert: It was a lot of fun. The award was from The Environmental Law Institute, it’s given every years in four categories, mine was in the category of research, and it was pretty special to me. My former major professor got this award in 1995, I’m the fourth faculty member in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science to get this award. Jim Goslin, Jean Turner, and Bill Patrick before me. That’s a pretty good group of people. Finally, I was able to get my 93 year old mom there.
Simone: I love that, that’s my favorite part about that.
Robert: She was watching me get the award. So it was a great experience.
Simone: Very cool. This is the last thing we’re gonna talk about before I ask you our traditional silly question, and I hate to kind of end on this note, but can you briefly tell us about some of the federal cuts that you might face in the future with Louisiana Sea Grant?
Robert: NOAA has about $250 million in cuts that really will wipe out complete programs, and Louisiana Sea Grant would be, or the National Sea Grant program would be one of those that was proposed to be zeroed out. But we have very strong support in Congress. We have a very supportive delegation, I’ve visited with each of them, we submitted 35 letters from our constituents and our stakeholders, very strong group of letters. I feel confident Congress will keep these programs that have value, such as Sea Grant, alive. I’m worried about other cuts, I know you mentioned them, GOMESA, but other cuts such as community development block grants and cuts to the flood insurance program and other programs that help coastal communities become more resilient to disasters. I’m concerned about the whole package, particularly for coastal regions such as Louisiana.
So it’s not just our program, it’s the total aspects of what’s being proposed. I feel strongly our delegation, hopefully take a strong look at that. They understand our threats. I know they’re getting good guidance, right, aren’t they?
Simone: We do have a strong delegation that supports us in that and certainly now more than ever we can’t take those cuts to Louisiana’s coastal program. We have some momentum moving forward. There’s been some recent press about that, you can find Mississippi River Delta statement on some of the cuts to the programs. So I really hate to end on that note, but I’m with you, I’m optimistic that our delegation stands strong and that we do have the support there.
Let’s end on our kind of silly question of the day. We’re gonna take it a little easy on you, but what is Robert Twilley, what is your favorite town or city in Louisiana? You must answer.
Robert: Oh boy, you’re gonna get me in trouble.
Simone: I know, I know, I love it. Which one, where?
Robert: I live in Lafayette, and it’s been a great community to raise three fabulous kids. So I have to put Lafayette right up there at the top. But I also love driving highway 90 between Lafayette and New Orleans. It’s got to be one of the great trips to go through some communities that are quite spectacular. But just a quick visit, I can’t pass up New Orleans, but where I’m gonna live is gonna be Lafayette.
Simone: We all know you really love Leesville and you just don’t want to make Lafayette mad. All right, Dr. Twilley we are so grateful to have you on, we hope to have you again in the future. Thank you, thank you for joining us. You can find some more information, that contact information on our Twitter accounts, and we hope to have you again soon. Thank you Robert.
Robert: Thank you, Simone. It’s been pleasure.
Simone: We are fortunate to have in the studio with us, Pepper Bowen, thank you. We kind of a fisheries kind of theme today. Pepper’s the director of The Culinaria Center for Food Law, Policy, and Culture. We want to hear about that, but most importantly we want to hear about you. Tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of how you got here today. Besides like street car or whatever.
Pepper: Law is my second career. I spent quite a long in time in information technology. I most recently was a project manager for a healthcare system and I left IT–
Simone: You switched gears, huh?
Pepper: Quite a bit. I left IT in order to go to law school because I thought there were many injustices in this world and when I got to law school I figured out that I was not emotionally equipped to fight of all them. However–
Simone: You went to law school here in the city.
Pepper: I did, I went to Loyola Law School.
Simone: Are you a Louisiana native?
Pepper: I am.
Simone: Good girl.
Pepper: I was born right here at Big Charity with 80 percent of the population, and when I was little it was a badge of shame. And now post-Katrina, it is a badge of honor. My grandmother lived uptown between Liberty and LaSalle until she passed, God rest her soul. I went to only three years of school in New Orleans and then I transferred back, because we lived in San Diego when I was a child, and transferred into Loyola as an undergrad and promptly dropped out.
It was too much, it was too much. Eventually I went back to school and graduated from Tulane. I got a Master’s from Regis in IT. Then I went to Loyola’s law school. I was friends, well not friends, but he was more of a mentor and a guider through the darkness that was my undergrad career. Dean Louis Westerfield was very kind to me when I was and undergrad, so I knew that when I wanted to go to law school I wanted to go Loyola Law School. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, to be honest with you. They started in 2012, a part-time day program that allowed me to work part-time, go to school part-time, and continue to be a mom.
Simone: That’s a lot.
Pepper: It was. Would not do it again, unless I had to.
Simone: But sometimes when you’re in it and you’re doing that much, you don’t really have time to think about how hard it is and it sounds crazy, but sometimes you’re just in it to win it.
Pepper: True story.
Simone: And you’re just working toward the finish, so good for you.
Pepper: What happened is I went in because I wanted to do immigration law, but figured out that it was family law across international waters and it was simply not emotionally the task that I could undertake. I always had this love for food. When you’re living in IT for so very long, one of the things that I read very often was, find your passion. So what is it that you do, what is it that you read, what sort of places that you go, how is it that you move in this world when you are not working. That is your passion. And it was food.
Simone: So did you just like to eat the food, did you like to cook, did you like the–
Pepper: I don’t know why this is a question. Yes, yes, and yes. True story. I love to eat, but when I had my first child the understanding of what food meant and the nutritional values, what it meant to eat with the seasons, what culture is transferred from the plate into the person, from the table. All of those all of a sudden had a huge impact on me. My first summer we spent abroad in Greece and I was did two weeks of classes, and they had an amazing time. The boys came with. Then we spent a month where I was working on a program where we could identify what the proposed law, the proposed regulation was, which was to identify and regulate the seeds themselves in a seed saving bank for a non-governmental organization.
That has blown into a current career. At this point I’m standing up Culinaria, which is a food law, policy, and culture center, understanding that we live through the regulation of law. So when you think of a food law, most people associate USDA stamped beef, right? But there are also a lot of policies that are underneath that. So if you are a foodie, and you are one of those people who pays a good bit of attention to how it is that the food gets to the plate, you understand that there’s policy around, but there’s also a culture that goes with it. In Louisiana we’re a little bit more sensitive to that, because we understand that who you are is on a plate.
Simone: So the joke here is that we’re eating one meal and talking about the next one. So this is fascinating. Some people do just eat to eat.
We’re gonna take a break. We want to talk about the National Food and Beverage Foundation, and what that means to you. Then, also about several of the programs that you have. So we’ll back in just a minute. We’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSO 990.
Welcome back to Delta Dispatches, I’m Simone Maloz, I am joined by Pepper Bowen, thank you for being with us. Pepper is the director of The Culinaria Center for Food Law, Policy, and Culture. We were just talking about food, right? I talk about food a lot, a lot. But it is such an important part of our culture and that’s some of what we talk about here on this show is Louisiana’s coast and the culture and that certainly has so much to do with it.
Pepper: Yeah, I don’t think other people do this. I don’t think in Indiana they’re sitting around talking about food.
Simone: That kind of makes me sad, though.
Pepper: Shouldn’t it?
Simone: You know, what kind of food do they talk about?
Pepper: What are you talking if you’re not talking about food?
Simone: They’re probably talking about our food, right?
Pepper: Like, why not?
Simone: We were talking a little bit about the National Food and Beverage Foundation, so you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Pepper: Sure. The National Food and Beverage Foundation is the umbrella under which Culinaria Center sits. We are sisters to the Boyd Culinaria Library, we are sister to the Southern Food Beverage Museum, and the American sector Cocktail Museum. Or, excuse me, the American Cocktail Museum, not sector. We are standing up, again, the idea is that we will marry, more or less, law and policy in order to preserve not only the food that we have access to, but also figuring out was that we can ensure that there is food security, and that we can preserve that is Louisiana. That’s really how we got to the Best Bycatch event, because the Asian Carp are an invasive species to the coast, and figured this will be where we start.
Simone: Let’s talk about the event next week. This is really one of the reasons why we brought you on, and then found out, this is just me personally, I think other people knew this, but there’s this fascinating reason, you’re not just somebody who’s done something for us. You work with food just to talk about food right?
Pepper: Well, I don’t argue that, it is true.
Simone: This is a good thing. Tell us a little bit about the event.
Pepper: The Best of Bycatch actually hits on a number of different levels.
Simone: It’s next Tuesday?
Pepper: It is on Tuesday the 20th, from five to seven pm at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. It is at the corner of Oretha Castle Haley and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It’s super easy to get to, there’s no two hour pay to park kind of thing.
Simone: Hey, I just had to … I got a ticket yesterday.
Pepper: So do I.
Simone: I think she was waiting for me. It was raining.
Pepper: She might have been.
Simone: I don’t want to talk about it.
Pepper: Point taken. Anyway.
Simone: Yay, so none of that.
Pepper: There’s none of that. The museum is actually closed that day and so is Tube South, so we have the run of the museum, and what we’re doing is bringing in four chefs. We have [inaudible 00:36:50] from Alma the pop up. Yeah so, let’s go no further. We also have Dana [Han 00:36:58] from Caramel Café, he’s gonna be coming in. A super amazing conservationist whose actually doing a fundraiser for the Amazon River Dolphin Conservation, The Pink Bow Toast, on Saturday over at his restaurant. We’ve got Jessica Richardson from Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant. I love that because they used to do taco Tuesdays, and I don’t know what she’s planning, but I’m hoping for tacos. And last but not least we’ve got Rob Clement.
Simone: I’m from Houma, we would totally say Claymont.
Pepper: It’s a habit, but he pronounces it Clement, so I’m trying to be respectful.
Simone: Champagne, champagne, yeah.
Pepper: From Food and Spirits, which is at the Healing Center on [inaudible 00:37:45]. They’re all coming in and they will be preparing this fish from scratch.
Simone: We were talking about during break, Asian Carp is an invasive species here in Louisiana.
Pepper: And it’s massive, massive. Not just the impact, but the size of the fish is just absurd.
Simone: We do boat trips, and when we go out, you see them jumping, and they like the vibration of the boats. It’s really unbelievable to see these things in action, definitely.
Pepper: It’s crazy. I have been one of those people, I don’t know if this is oversharing, so let me know.
Simone: Never oversharing on this show, trust me.
Pepper: Sitting out by the lake having daiquiris and watching fish jump out of the water. And those are the fish. From a distance they look pretty small, but up close they are really not. I’ve talked to a number of fisherman at this point, who’ve told me about how they jump on to the boat and so–
Simone: They can hurt people too because–
Pepper: Exactly, because of the size. So when I think of fish, I’m thinking of something like one or two pounds.
Simone: Speckled trout, something, yeah. Mm-mmm, no, they’re kinda of more tarpin like, really.
Pepper: Exactly. Yes, like tarpin, swordfish, when you think of Asian Carp, think of the size of a swordfish, a topper. It’s like a 20, 30, 40 pound fish that is jumping out of the water, which is pretty amazing in and of itself.
Simone: This was a challenge for them, right? To have to think–
Pepper: That’s the point! The idea is that we can save the coast by making this more commercially acceptable. It not only serves the fisherman because then they don’t have to disrupt their fishing in trying to get rid of the Asian carp, they can actually fish for it. It also assists the coast because the Asian carp are eating the foundation of our ecosystem, and by taking them out of the water we can make things a lot easier.
Simone: Just educating them on what an invasive species is … This is what this is, right? This is not supposed to be here either, right?
Pepper: I didn’t know it was that big. Right.
Simone: Good. The event is free, right?
Simone: It’s open to the public, but you are asking for RSVP’s.
Pepper: Well we’re asking so that we have enough food to … We’re hoping that we’re gonna get a pretty decent turn out, we’ve got Alma Chefs Dana Honn of Carmo, Jessica Richardson of Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, Robert Clement of Spotted Cat Food & Spirits, and Melissa Araujo of Alma.
Chef Kevin Boulton is gonna be our MC. We’ve got Chef Phillippe Parola who’s a judge as well as Poppy Tucker, and Chef Alfred Singleton from Café Sbisa.
Simone: People with some chops.
Pepper: Yeah, so they know exactly what it is that they’re looking for, and the intention is that we figure out how it is that we can bring this to the table.
Simone: And like you said, a lot of these people have causes and care about these issues, and so it’s nice to be able to relate it is Louisiana’s coast and to figure out even what and invasive species is, and get people engaged and having this conversation.
Pepper: True story, true story. Because the Asian carp, it’s not so much that it’s another fish that’s living in the water, which is what most people think, “Well, you know, why isn’t there enough room in the Gulf?” However, what happens is, is that the Asian carp is eating the actual foundation of the ecosystem. So they are eating the plankton, they are eating the algae, and they are fat and happy.
Pepper: Right, but that is going to impact ultimately the oysters. It’s going to impact all of everything we’ve got living in the water.
Simone: Pepper, tell us where we can find more information not only about the event, but also you have Twitter, yes? Tell us, very quickly, more information, where they can find it.
Pepper: On Facebook Eat Asian Carp, on Twitter–
Simone: Y’all should do bumper stickers.
Pepper: I know. Southern Food and Beverage Museum and on Instagram Southern Food and Beverage Museum, we’ve been advertising through them. Culinaria Center under the National Food and Beverage Foundation.
Simone: We are so fortunate to have you and I’m so glad you came in the studio, too. I was missing my Jacques, and you made me feel good about being in here by myself. And thankfully BJ didn’t have to come on. Thank you for joining us for Delta Dispatches this week. I’m Simone Maloz, me and Jacques Herbert will be back next week. Thank you for joining us.