NOAA Sea Grant today announced federal funding of approximately $14 million in four strategic areas to improve aquaculture in the United States. Competitively selected projects will advance early-stage propagation strategies for various aquaculture species, marine fish juvenile production technologies, aquaculture collaborations, and establishment of information exchange on the aquaculture.
“These investments demonstrate Sea Grant’s commitment to the sustainable growth of US aquaculture in coastal and Great Lakes communities,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College program. “The funded projects, which address a variety of challenges, will ensure that the growth of the aquaculture sector is informed by the latest scientific and community needs.
The four strategic investment areas and project details are described below.
Strategies for spread at an early stage
A Sea Grant staff member holds a piece of sugar kelp, a type of seaweed, grown at AquaFort, a Sea Grant-funded marine aquaculture research project just off New Castle, NH ( photo credit Tim Briggs, New Hampshire Sea Grant).
A boatman holds juvenile oysters in his hand (photo credit Aileen Devlin, Virginia Sea Grant).
NOAA Sea Grant will award a total of approximately $5.1 million over three years to nine research projects that will develop and refine early propagation strategies for aquaculture species. Funded projects will improve knowledge on spawning, hatchery and nursery strategies for aquaculture species, including clownfish, lumpfish and other marine fish species, seaweed, oysters, sea scallops and shrimp, with the overall goal of obtaining a reliable and consistent supply of organisms. necessary to support commercial-scale growth operations.
A key element of this funding is the involvement of Sea Grant aquaculture extension staff and industry stakeholders to ensure the relevance of the work and to extend the results of the work to US coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture enterprises. These projects will integrate research and extension through education and awareness activities.
The winners are the California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, University of Southern California, and Woods Hole Sea Grant programs. Grant recipients must match 50% of their funding with non-federal funds.
Technologies for the production of marine fish juveniles
Fry, or juvenile fish, swim above an individual’s hand (photo credit Emma Hauser, Wisconsin Sea Grant/Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility)
NOAA Sea Grant will award a total of approximately $3.3 million over three years to four research projects that will advance technologies for the production of marine fish juveniles for aquaculture. These projects target marine fish species of interest that have been identified by experts for national aquaculture expansion, including almaco jack, California yellowtail and striped bass.
Similar to the Early Stage Propagation Strategies competition, this research will focus on breeding/broodstock, hatchery and nursery strategies that enable reliable production of juveniles to advance commercialization. Sea Grant’s outreach activities and industry stakeholder involvement will also play an important role in transferring the results of this work to coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture companies in the United States.
The winners are the California, Hawaii, Maine and North Carolina Sea Grant programs. Grant recipients must match 50% of their funding with non-federal funds.
Ongoing support for cutting-edge aquaculture collaborations
Striped bass produced by Sea Grant StriperHub prepared by Chef Smoke of The Flame Catering in New Bern, NC for a StriperHub outreach and sensory evaluation event at the NC Aquaculture Development Conference North 2022 (photo credit Eric Herbst, North Carolina Sea Grant).
The NOAA Sea Grant continues to support 11 advanced aquaculture collaborations originally funded under the 2019 Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative. The total award of approximately $4.7 million provides a two-year extension for projects conducted by the Connecticut, Hawai’i, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Washington Sea Grant programs . Projects cover a variety of topics, including finfish and shellfish aquaculture, seaweed production and indigenous aquaculture practices. Grant recipients must match 50% of their funding with non-federal funds.
The projects aim to accelerate the development of aquaculture-specific topics through integrated teams of professionals. These teams have established collaborative programs, commonly referred to as “hubs,” to plan and appropriately target the next generation of aquaculture investments while improving the synthesis and transfer of prior research advances to industry. With this additional support, the teams will continue and expand research, extension and outreach activities and seek new collaborative activities.
Creation of the Aquaculture Information Clearinghouse
A conceptual mockup for the Aquaculture Information Exchange online community (photo credit Jay Clark, Virginia Sea Grant).
NOAA Sea Grant has selected Virginia Sea Grant to host the Aquaculture Information Exchange in partnership with USDA Regional Aquaculture Centers, with an award of $785,000 over the next four years. The Aquaculture Information Exchange will be an online community that will engage public and private sector individuals with interests in US aquaculture and related topics. The establishment of this exchange represents a joint effort of NOAA Sea Grant, NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, NOAA Office of Education, NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, USDA-ARS and USDA -NIFA, and aims to strengthen collaboration between producers, researchers, hatcheries, industry, government agencies and other interested parties in aquaculture.
Download a full list of all funded projects and their descriptions here.
Aquaculture production offers great potential to increase the economic resilience and nutritional security of communities across the country. All of the above investments are in line with Sea Grant’s Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA) focus area and the Sea Grant Network’s 10-Year Aquaculture Vision, both of which support the goals of aquaculture from NOAA and the Department of Commerce. To learn more about Sea Grant’s work in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, click here