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Rhode Island Aquaculture Shows Strong Growth

US - The aquaculture industry in Rhode Island is growing strongly with the farm gate value up by 18 per cent to $1.6 million last year.

The state Coastal Resources Management Council said the value of aquaculture products passed the $1 million mark in 2006, and 2007’s growth marks the 10th double-digit increase in values during the past 12 years.

"That kind of growth is rather astounding, and this is largely organic growth," Bob Rheault, an oyster farmer told the South County Independent.

"It's not like we're getting grants or outside investment. These are individuals investing in their small enterprises."

The South County Independent says the local aquaculture industry is dominated by small farms leased in public waters, such as Point Judith Pond and Ninigret Pond. Two additional farms established leases, raising the total to 30. Total acreage under cultivation rose to 123 acres from 99 acres, a jump of 24 per cent.

Gross revenues reached $4.3 million and aquaculture farms created a handful of new full-time jobs. A total of 14 full-time, year-round jobs and 28 part-time, seasonal employees work in the industry. Employment increases in the summer; last year, farms hired two full-time seasonal and 17 part-time seasonal workers during the summer months.

The value of Rhode Island aquaculture per acre is $12,862 – a decrease from 2006’s figure of $13,621, but it was "still a large increase from $8,757 in 2006 and from the $8,185 per acre value for 2004," according to a report from the Coastal Resources Management Council, the South Country Independent said.

Now the Coastal Resources Management Council is seeking proposals for submittal to the NOAA Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program competitive grants process for the 2009 financial.

The deadline for submitting proposals to CRMC is July 7, 2008.

Proposals will be evaluated according to state and federal programme criteria.

The CRMC will select no more than three project proposals requesting a maximum of $3 million in federal funding per proposal for submittal to NOAA for consideration through the national CELCP competitive grants process.

NOAA will develop a prioritized list of projects that are ready and eligible for funding. Availability of funding is contingent upon Congressional appropriation. The FY 2009 President's Budget request included CELCP funding at a level of $15 million.

View the South Country Independent story by clicking here.