Friday, October 20, 2017
 
NOAA Sea Grant awards $2.6 million for new aquaculture projects

NOAA Sea Grant awards $2.6 million for new aquaculture projects

Today NOAA Sea Grant is announcing new grants totaling $2.6 million for 15 projects to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes aquaculture. Through university, state and other partnerships, Sea Grant Programs will supplement the federal funding with an additional $1.4 million in non-federal matching funds, bringing the total investment to about $4 million for new national projects in 2014. These new research projects are in addition to multi-year extension and technology transfer projects selected in FY13.

Tiny oysters

Tiny oysters

A fish farmer holds up tiny oysters produced at a hatchery in Grand Isle, Louisiana. (NOAA Sea Grant)
The U.S. imports over 90 percent of the seafood we consume, over half of that is farm-raised or aquaculture. Current estimates of U.S. aquaculture production, both freshwater and marine, are valued at $1.2 billion in the most recent annual report. This represents 6 percent of our domestic seafood landings by weight and 20 percent of domestic landings by value.

“Domestic aquaculture creates jobs and helps meet the nation’s demand for finfish and shellfish,” said Gene Kim, Ph.D., Program Director for Aquaculture for NOAA Sea Grant. “These grants support research that will produce tangible results to ensure a safe and sustainable supply of farmed seafood now and for future generations.”

Farming kelp

Farming kelp

Maine marine extension associates Sarah Redmond and Dana Morse tend an experimental kelp farm in Frenchman Bay, Maine. They are sharing techniques with fishermen and prospective sea farmers as part of the Sea Grant-funded "Aquaculture in Shared Waters" project. (Catherine Schmitt)
Sea Grant has been involved in research to support sustainable aquaculture since its inception in 1966. This year’s National Strategic Investment competition focused on aquaculture research projects that will have immediate beneficial impacts by: informing regulatory decisions; increasing production technology, or understanding the socio-economic issues that limit aquaculture development. Sea Grant supports NOAA aquaculture partners in NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Ocean Service with its academic and industry research partners. Sea Grant’s built-in network of extension agents and specialists along the coasts will provide this research directly to the local communities and small businesses that need it most.

Examples of the grants include: 

  • California Sea Grant is supporting research that will provide education, training, siting maps and other information to assist communities with current regulatory decisions regarding commercial-scale aquaculture operations in the Southern California Bight.
  • Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant is funding technology development to raise copepods, which are microscopic food for marine fish raised in hatcheries. Raising copepods on a commercial hatchery scale can lead to reliable and cost-effective production of juvenile finfish, which has limited marine aquaculture.
  • Rhode Island Sea Grant is funding a socio-economic study to assess how consumers respond to news about food-borne disease outbreaks in oysters, both in-state and out-of-state, and how they respond to information about product safety.  This information will help the oyster aquaculture industry better market its produce and respond to food-borne disease outbreaks.

For a full list of funded projects click here.

Sea Grant is a federal-private partnership of 33 programs based at top research universities in every coastal and Great Lakes state as well as Puerto Rico and Guam. Sea Grant leverages federal, academic, and industry partners to support the demand for increased efficiency and increased yield in the aquaculture industry. Sea Grant continues to invest in high-priority aquaculture research and engage communities through its integrated outreach program, bringing together the collective expertise of on-the-ground extension agents, educators and communicators to support the development and integrations of new aquaculture technologies.

 For more information, please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs for NOAA Research, at 301-734-1123 or by email at monica.allen@noaa.gov

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