NOAA Awards Millions in Aquaculture Grants

The United States’ National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has granted millions of dollars to a variety of aquaculture projects across the country to boost research and production of the sector.

Seaweed-SeaGrant UMaine
Seaweed farming (credit: Sea Grant, University of Maine)

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science professor Daniel Benetti has been awarded $967,000 to improve hatchery techniques for three economically important species: red snapper, Nassau grouper, and hogfish. Research will focus on captive spawning and ultimately production of these fish via aquaculture.  Over the next three years, the funding will be used to create an affordable supply of seed for at least one of the species, the School stated on their website.

“This project aims to resolve these issues and will allow for commercial producers to have access to low-cost, reliable supplies for the culture of a variety of native marine finfish. These results will likely be felt throughout the fishing community as it may help relieve pressure on wild stocks without negative economic impacts associated with reducing catch,” said Benetti.

Researchers at the University of Maine have also been awarded grant money to pursue aquaculture research in the amount of $908,015.  Studies include understanding sustainable post-harvest processing for seaweed, which includes the steps of drying, blanching, and freezing. The goal is to increase capacity of Maine seaweed producers and processors to compete in the foot marketplace, Mainebiz reports.

Another award of $249,238 will go to Brian Beal of the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education in order to study the large-scale culture of blue mussel seed. Mussel aquaculture is a quickly growing subsection and demand in the northeast is higher than domestic supply, and seed production is the primary factor limiting expansion.

The United States has some of the most stringent regulations surrounding aquaculture, which is why many operations are developed in other countries. While laws are useful in ensuring sustainable fish farming, this sector is underdeveloped in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world. There is significant potential, however, in US waters for aquaculture, and the government now seems to be supporting expansion with these grant funds.


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