Michigan Sea Grant names recipient of Van Snider Partnership Award
Jim Thannum of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is recognized for his leadership and contributions toward expanding Michigan’s tribal commercial fishery.
Jim Thannum of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission was recently recognized for his exemplary partnership with Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension and is the 2014 recipient of the Van Snider Partnership Award.
Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension have been working with Jim Thannum since 1997, conducting twenty-two Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) workshops in the Great Lakes Region. Most of these workshops were conducted on tribal reservations, training over 550 commercial fishers, processors, and aquaculturists.
Because of Thannum’s efforts, Native American communities have adopted Seafood HACCP for handling fish and fish products. Three tribes have signed memorandums of understanding with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stating that tribal authorities will be responsible for educating and monitoring tribal fish processors within their reservation boundaries. Many fish processors were unaware of specialized fish processing equipment, such as calibrated thermometers, continuous recording thermometers, salometers, graduated cylinders, and sanitizer test tapes. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, through Thannum’s efforts, used funding from an FDA Partnership Grant to purchase training equipment for demonstrations at the Seafood HACCP Training workshops. Workshop participants learned how to calibrate thermometers, use continuous recording thermometers in smoke houses, use salometers to make brines with the proper salt concentration, and develop proper sanitizing solutions. The commission has since purchased this equipment for many tribal members who attended the workshops so that they can use these practices at their own facilities.
When Michigan Sea Grant received a grant for Great Lake whitefish marketing, Jim Thannum served on the advisory committee for the duration of this project. When the project started, commercial fishers were receiving $0.45 per pound dockside value for their lake whitefish. These same commercial fishers now receive well over $2.00 per pound, and at some points in the year over $3.00 per pound. Thannum came up with the concept of featuring Great Lakes commercial fishing families in websites developed by both Michigan Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, as many consumers are now interested in from where their food comes.