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There's something very fishy going on at Old Dominion University's Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology (CQFE). Over the last two years the center has donated tons of the fish to the Salvation Army to feed adults at their rehab centers. CQFE was recognized for their volunteer efforts at the Salvation Army ARC Sobriety Awards and Volunteer Recognition Dinner May 28 in Virginia Beach.

Roxanne Carter Torres, CQFE lab technician and Eric Robillard, CQFE research specialist, contacted the Salvation Army two years ago out of frustration of having to dispose of fish that could not be taken by various food banks due to their lack of freezer space.

"Periodically we get up to 400 pounds of fish and that was too much for most food banks to handle," said Cynthia Jones, professor of biological sciences and director of the center. "They don't have the freezers. So we would often end up throwing out fish. That was heartbreaking and wasteful. Our lab cares about stewardship of natural resources and it was discouraging to find ourselves having to waste fish."

The center purchases fish for its research from local fisherman through grants from the Virginia Recreational Fishery Advisory Board of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and collects the fish on their own through additional grants. Students, scientists and technicians then process the fish and collect such information as age, length, weight, growth, sex and sexual maturity to be used in stock assessment models to manage fisheries.

"The Salvation Army tells us how fortunate they are to get our fish, when we feel that the truth is how fortunate we are that they will use these fish to feed the people at the adult rehab center," said Jones.

None of the fish goes to waste. Bluefish for example is made into a fish stew. Other species are filleted and stored in freezers.

"We call the organization when fish arrive at the lab after we've examined them to make sure that they are fresh and in good condition," said Jones. "Because the Salvation Army is so good about taking our fish, now we call them first."

This article was posted on: May 29, 2003

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