College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Biologist Glenn Parsons Selected as Delegate to SEUS-CP Conference

Glenn Parsons, professor of biology at the University of Mississippi, has been selected as a delegate to the Southeastern United States – Canadian Provinces Alliance Second Annual Conference later this month.

“I’m excited about this opportunity because I hope to contribute to establishing scientific and business collaborations between the Southeastern U.S. and Canada,” Parsons said. “The Maritime Provinces, in particular, face many of the same problems in natural resource management that we face in the South.”

The alliance, known as SEUS-CP, is a strategic trade and investment-focused partnership between six Southeastern states – Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama – and seven Canadian provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

The conference, set for July 26-28 at the Sheraton Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is an opportunity for Southeastern governors and Canadian premiers to discuss opportunities for enhanced commercial exchanges, two-way trade and knowledge-sharing between member provinces and states.

Conference goals are to help delegates learn about opportunities to enhance existing business relationships and develop new ones; exchange information on investment and trade activities; and identify areas for potential collaboration.

“Being a member of SEUS-CP offers another avenue for our state to take advantage of the potential business opportunities in two-way trade and investment that exist in Mississippi and Canada,” said Vickie Watters, Mississippi Development Authority’s senior international trade specialist for Canada. “This year’s event provides the ideal setting to explore new partnerships and showcase Mississippi’s technologically advanced companies in the Canadian market.”

One of three key business sectors for this year’s program is Ocean Technologies. As part of this sector, Parsons will be showcasing his award-winning bycatch reduction device, the Nested Cylinder. The device reduces the amount of fish (bycatch) caught in shrimp trawl nets by 55 percent, outperforming all other bycatch reduction device models.

“The bycatch reduction device, or BRD, takes advantage of the behavioral differences between fish and shrimp and their response to water flow,” Parsons said. “The device creates flow shadows (dead water) inside of the trawl, and those pockets of slower-flowing water attract fish to them, but not shrimp. By attracting fish to those pockets, it provides them the opportunity to go out an escape opening.”

Parsons will exhibit his device in the world’s largest flume tank, located at the Marine Institute at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The tank is used primarily for the design and evaluation of experimental fishing gear. The BRD will be present in the flume tank while the governors and premiers tour the Marine Institute’s facilities.

“This device is important because the amount of bycatch that goes into the ocean every year is around 40 million tons. That’s a lot of waste,” Parsons said.

Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawls rank fifth in the world in terms of bycatch, with a 5-1 ratio of fish capture to shrimp. Red snapper fish stocks are on the decline, and it’s suggested that shrimp trawling may be a significant contributor to that decline. Each year, an estimated 25 million to 45 million juvenile red snapper are killed by shrimp trawling.

Parsons believes it is important that the governors and premiers walk away with a better understanding of conservation issues.

“I see this as an opportunity to showcase the important conservation work that we’re doing in the biology department at the University of Mississippi,” Parsons said. “I’d like for the governors and premiers to have a better understanding of bycatch in the world’s oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. I’d like for them to walk away with a better understanding of the problem we have in the red snapper fisheries, and I’d like for them to walk away with a better understanding of potential solutions to a serious worldwide problem.”