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NOAA pledges $14 million for aquaculture investments

Marine fish Breeding & genetics Hatcheries +9 more

NOAA Sea Grant has announced that it will allocate approximately $14 million in federal funding across four strategic areas for improving the US aquaculture sector.

Hatchery initiatives are set to receive a high proportion of the $14 million funding

© NOAA Sea Grant

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 US aquaculture throughout coastal and Great Lakes communities,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, in a press release. “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.”

Early-stage propagation strategies

Approximately $5.1 million of the funding will be spent 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, seaweeds, oysters, 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 US coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture businesses. These projects will integrate research and extension through education and outreach activities.

The awardees are the 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.

Juvenile marine finfish production technologies

Approximately $3.3 million of the funding will be awarded 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 focus on reproduction/broodstock, hatchery and nursery strategies that enable the reliable production of juveniles to advance commercialisation. 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

Meanwhile 11 advanced aquaculture collaboratives, which were initially funded as part of Sea Grant's 2019 National Aquaculture Initiative, will receive approximately $4.7 million. This will provide a two-year extension for projects led by Connecticut, Hawai'i, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Washington Sea Grant programmes. 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 an Aquaculture Information Exchange

Finally Virginia Sea Grant has been awarded $785,000 over the next four years to host the Aquaculture Information Exchange in partnership with USDA Regional Aquaculture Centers. The exchange will be an online community that engages individuals from both the public and private sectors 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 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.