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Sea Grant awards $16 million to advance U.S. aquaculture

by Brooke Carney, NOAA Fisheries 26 Sep 14:09 UTC
A waterman tends oyster cages at Cherrystone AquaFarms in Virginia. Oyster farmers across the country stand to benefit from the outcomes of the research and collaborative work funded by Sea Grant. © Aileen Devlin

Sea Grant announces $16 million in federal funding awards to support 42 research projects and collaborative programs aimed at advancing sustainable aquaculture in the United States.

"With our 2019 investments, we are building on investments by Sea Grant and NOAA over the last few years to fill critical gaps in information and strengthen connectivity of science to industry," said Jonathan Pennock, Director of the National Sea Grant College Program. "These investments will help advance U.S. aquaculture in sustainable, thoughtful ways using the best science and talent across the country."

The funded projects focus on three areas of need identified by Sea Grant.

Advanced Aquaculture Collaborative Programs: Ten projects will develop integrated teams of professionals focused on accelerating the development of specific aquaculture topics. These teams will establish a collaborative program 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.

Exploring New Aquaculture Opportunities: Sixteen projects will focus on the development of new, and at times higher-risk, topics for which minimal foundation currently exists to inform and focus potential future investments.

Social, Economic, and Behavioral Research Needs in Aquaculture: Sixteen projects will address critical gaps in social, behavioral, and economic knowledge as it relates to U.S. aquaculture and the communities impacted and served by it.

Download the list of funded projects (PDF)

"For each project, connections with industry members and other stakeholders is an important component," said Pennock. "Using the Sea Grant model, we want to ensure research goes far beyond the lab or field site to meaningfully inform a growing industry."

Sea Grant's 2019 investments build on the foundation laid by recent investments by Sea Grant and NOAA and continue to tap the aquaculture expertise contained within the network of university-based professionals that comprise the Sea Grant network.

The grant recipients must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds. For the three funding opportunities combined, NOAA received 136 proposals requesting over $52 million in federal funds.

The economic benefit of Sea Grant's investment in aquaculture in 2018 was $65 million, including sustaining or creating 841 jobs and 345 businesses. In 2019, Sea Grant employed or partially funded 111 professionals working on aquaculture around the country to study, communicate, identify needs or transfer research to industry members and the public.

The U.S. currently imports 85% of its seafood, resulting in a $14 billion trade deficit (NOAA). As trends in seafood consumption continue to rise, wild-caught fisheries alone cannot meet the seafood demands of the U.S. population. NOAA, and its Sea Grant partners, are committed to advancing U.S. aquaculture in informed, sustainable and properly regulated ways.

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