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New director 'spreading the word' about Fish Tech Center

Submitted by Carin Bailey Stephens
Phone: 907-322-8730


Kodiak, ALASKA--When Murat Balaban took over as director of the Fishery Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak last month, he immediately went to work publicizing the important work being done at the research center.

"Fish Tech has excellent faculty and staff, and world-class facilities and capabilities," said Balaban. "I'm enjoying spreading the word about the amazing work we do here."

The Fishery Industrial Technology Center is a unit of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Located in Kodiak, at the center of Alaska's fishing industry, FITC scientists look for new ways to increase the value of Alaska's seafood products.

Scientists at the center work on developing technologies to help improve the quality and safety of Alaska seafood, such as a machine that automatically removes pinbones from fish, an electronic 'nose' to detect quality issues in seafood and net pens to deliver live salmon to processors.

Other research at the center includes finding new ways to use the more than one million metric tons of seafood by-products-- fish heads, tails and viscera-- that are annually dumped or minimally used by Alaska's fishing industry.

Fish Tech staff also educate members of the fishing industry in seafood quality, marketing and business practices. The center works closely with the Marine Advisory Program, another unit in the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, to provide education and guidance to Alaska's commercial and subsistence fishermen.

For the past twenty years, Balaban served on the faculty of the University of Florida in Gainesville as a professor of food processing and engineering. Originally from Turkey, Balaban received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Middle East Technical University. He earned a doctorate in food science from the University of Washington. Balaban also holds five patents as a food processing engineer.

"We were looking for a director who could really expand on our mission of service to the state of Alaska and the fishing industry," said Denis Wiesenburg, dean of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

"We found that person in Murat Balaban," added Wiesenburg.

Balaban has already begun revamping the FITC website and building bridges between the center and the community of Kodiak and the state of Alaska. FITC will play a central role in ComFish, Alaska's annual commercial fishing conference and trade show held in Kodiak in March.

Balaban also wants to reinvigorate the academic curriculum at Fish Tech and attract more high-quality students to the sustainable seafood science and utilization program.

"All we have to do now is keep proving that we are the best in the world," Balaban added.

The mission of the UAF Fishery Industrial Technology Center is to increase the value of Alaska's fishing industry and marine resources through research, technological development, education and service.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. More than 55 faculty scientists and 135 graduate students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.

ON THE WEB: www.sfos.uaf.edu or www.sfos.uaf.edu/fitc