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NOAA Sea Grant announces $14 million in investments to strengthen U.S. aquaculture

NOAA Sea Grant today announced approximately $14 million in federal funding across four strategic areas for improving U.S. aquaculture. The competitively selected projects will advance early stage propagation strategies for various aquaculture species, marine finfish juvenile production technologies, aquaculture collaboratives and establishment of an aquaculture information exchange.

“These investments demonstrate Sea Grant’s commitment to sustainably growing U.S. aquaculture throughout 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 growth of the aquaculture sector will be informed by the latest science and community needs.”

The four strategic areas of investment and project details are described below.

Early stage propagation strategies

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 stage propagation strategies for aquaculture species. The funded projects will enhance knowledge of reproduction, hatchery and nursery strategies for aquaculture species including clownfish, lumpfish and other various marine finfish species, seaweeds, and oysters, sea scallops and shrimp, with the overall goal of achieving a reliable and consistent supply of organisms necessary to sustain commercially-scaled on-growing operations.

A key component of this funding is the involvement of Sea Grant aquaculture extension personnel and industry stakeholders to ensure relevance of work and extend the results of work to U.S. coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture businesses. These projects will integrate research and extension through education and outreach activities.

The awardees are California, Florida, Hawai’i, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, University of Southern California and Woods Hole Sea Grant programs. Grant recipients must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds.

Marine finfish juvenile production technologies

NOAA Sea Grant will award a total of approximately $3.3 million over three years to four research projects that will advance marine finfish juvenile production technologies for aquaculture. These projects target marine finfish species of interest that were identified by experts for domestic aquaculture expansion, including almaco jack, California yellowtail and striped bass.

Similar to the early stage propagation strategies competition, this research will be focused on reproduction/broodstock, hatchery and nursery strategies that enable the reliable production of juveniles to advance commercialization. Sea Grant extension activities and industry stakeholder involvement will also play an important role in transferring the results of this work to U.S. coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture businesses. 

The awardees are California, Hawai’i, Maine and North Carolina Sea Grant programs. Grant recipients must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds.

Continued support of advanced aquaculture collaboratives

NOAA Sea Grant is continuing support for 11 advanced aquaculture collaboratives initially funded as part of Sea Grant’s 2019 National Aquaculture Initiative. The award total of approximately $4.7 million provides a two-year extension for projects led by Connecticut, Hawai’i, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Washington Sea Grant programs. The projects span a variety of topics including fish and shellfish aquaculture, seaweed production and indigenous aquaculture practices. Grant recipients must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds.

The projects are focused on accelerating the development of specific aquaculture topics through integrated teams of professionals. These teams established collaborative programs, commonly referred to as “Hubs”, to plan for and appropriately focus the next generation of aquaculture investments while enhancing the synthesis and transfer of past research advances to the industry. With the additional support, the teams will continue and expand research, extension and outreach activities and seek new collaborative activities.

Creation of the Aquaculture Information Exchange 

NOAA Sea Grant 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 engages individuals from both the public and private sectors with interests in U.S. 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 it aims to enhance collaboration between growers, researchers, hatcheries, industry, government agencies and other parties with an interest in aquaculture. 

Download a full list of all the funded projects and descriptions here. 

Aquaculture production provides great potential for increasing the economic resilience and nutritional security of communities across the country. All of the above investments are consistent with Sea Grant’s focus area of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA) and the Sea Grant Network’s 10-year Aquaculture Vision, both of which support NOAA and Department of Commerce aquaculture goals. To learn more about Sea Grant’s work in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, click here

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