Steve Otwell, a Florida Sea Grant seafood specialist emeritus whose work has led to innovative and cost-effective responses to issues of seafood safety worldwide, has been awarded the Trans-Atlantic Fisheries Technology Conference 2015 Lifetime Achievement award.
The award is a professional honor bestowed on an individual who has distinguished themselves in fishery technology and seafood science over a period of at least 20 years.
Otwell has been a key architect of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system, or HACCP, that U.S. seafood importers, distributors and processors use to meet federal food safety regulations. Prior to his 2014 retirement, he was also a professor of seafood technology in the University of Florida Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition for 35 years.
Post retirement, Otwell continues to be actively engaged in education and training efforts with the seafood industry worldwide. Most recently, Otwell is providing leadership for the World Bank Global Food Safety Partnership Program to deliver aquaculture training in Vietnam and other countries around the world. He also continues to be the director for the National Seafood HACCP Alliance for Training and Education, working with Florida Sea Grant to offer training through the Association of Food and Drug Officials and the Responsible Aquaculture Foundation.
“The award was a big surprise and fully reflects the support and cooperation of the seafood industry,” Otwell said.
His tenure at the University began in an era when the U.S. domestic seafood industry supplied much of the state’s and nation’s demand for shrimp, fish, oysters and other seafood products.
Seafood is now a $65 billion industry in the U.S., but its focus has shifted from supplying wild-caught product to the processing and retailing sectors, a reflection of the nation’s growing dependence on imported seafood and aquacultured products.
Otwell was instrumental in initiating the Seafood HACCP Alliance, a nationwide network of processors, university researchers, and government agencies that provides seafood processors and importers with the sanitation training required to market fish and fishery products in the United States.
“In Steve’s long and distinguished career he has had a tremendous impact on the safety and quality of our nation’s seafood,” said Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant. “He has worked with local seafood processors and large companies in the U.S. and overseas. Steve always was there to provide innovative and practical solutions for issues affecting our seafood supply. I cannot imagine a person more deserving of this award.”
Otwell earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Military Institute, a master’s degree in marine science from the University of Virginia, and a doctorate in food science from North Carolina State University. In 2004 he was named a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and in 2007 he was selected as an International Fellow in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida.