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Aquaculture Research Awards Announced

Aquaculture research awards announced by NOAA Sea Grant with the award of $11 million in grants for 22 projects to further advance the development of a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry in the U.S.

The research will address specific priorities of the 2018 Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative including, supporting the development of emerging systems or technologies that will advance aquaculture in the U.S., developing and implementing actionable methods of communicating accurate, science based information about the benefits and risks of U.S. marine aquaculture to the public; and increasing the resiliency of aquaculture systems to natural hazards and changing conditions. The projects, which will be conducted over a three year period, include a 50% match by non-federal partners. One hundred proposals were submitted requesting a total in $48 million in federal grant funds.

Sea Grant’s investment in aquaculture research, outreach and education programs continues to produce results for coastal communities and their economies. Between February 2017 and January 2018, Sea Grant invested $11 million in aquaculture research, with additional funds and resources dedicated to outreach and technology transfer, and reported $78 million in economic impacts, including support of 792 businesses and 1,387 jobs.

As part of the Department of Commerce, NOAA facilitates the growing uses of and demands on our ocean resources. One of the most urgent opportunities in the “Blue Economy” is the need to expand sustainable seafood production in the U.S. —both through the better utilization of our wild-capture fisheries and the expansion of marine aquaculture.

See some of the impacts resulting from Sea Grant-funded aquaculture research and learn more about aquaculture in the U.S.

List of Projects

An integrated approach to addressing sea lice control in the commercial culture of Atlantic salmon
Maine Sea Grant
Project Summary: The economic impact of sea lice infestation to the U.S. aquaculture industry is estimated at $15 million annually and $740 million globally. This project will address not only the gaps in our knowledge of sea lice biology and control, but also social barriers to the rapid implementation of improved productivity. Further, it will advance ecological stewardship in the commercial salmon culture.

Assessing microbial safety issues associated with emerging shellfish aquaculture practices to increase productivity in the Northeast U.S.
New Hampshire Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will address regulatory constraints that limit U.S. shellfish aquaculture production by developing emerging microbial detection technologies and approaches for evaluating and refining rapidly evolving aquaculture practices that will advance and increase the effectiveness of shellfish aquaculture to prevent emerging microbiological safety issues linked to changing ecosystem and climate conditions.

Commercial scale offshore aquaculture demonstration, training and permitting to increase steelhead trout and blue mussel production in New England
New Hampshire Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will increase U.S. seafood production through aquaculture training and deployment of the AquaFort (AF) system at a permitted site offshore. The two‐year program will recruit fishermen and farmers from Maine, New Hampshire and Masachusetts to participate in workshops and daily operations of farming steelhead trout and blue mussels.

Consumer-focused strategies for improving market acceptance of domestic finfish aquaculture
Washington Sea Grant
Project Summary: Although finfish aquaculture has advanced its methods and addressed many legitimate public concerns, throughout the US, and Washington State in particular, the current public perception of farmed finfish is largely negative. Such perceptions may impact the ability of this $1.3 billion-dollar domestic aquaculture industry to grow. This study will examine effective ways to communicate health benefits and environmental safety of domestic finfish aquaculture to the public by engaging University of Washington researchers, Washington Sea Grant, US aquaculture producers, seafood industry organizations, environmental NGOS, and professional marketing firms.

Decreasing mortalities of triploid eastern oysters in commercial grow-out in Gulf of Mexico estuaries
Louisiana Sea Grant
Project Summary: The objective of this project is to decrease mortalities of triploid oysters at commercial farms in Alabama and Louisiana by breeding them from diploid oysters better adapted to local environmental conditions, thereby improving the economic performance of northern Gulf of Mexico oyster farms and the resiliency of the oyster farming community within the region. In addition, differential mortalities between triploids and diploids will be investigated and their potential cause(s) determined. Finally, the biological consequences of different energy allocation in triploid and diploid oysters will be determined using a recently developed dynamic energy budget model for eastern oysters.

Development of genomic breeding tools through transcriptome analysis by RNAseq for sustainability of the hard clam aquaculture industry
Florida Sea Grant
Project Summary: This project will build a global transcriptome profiles for Mercenaria mercenaria (hard clam) and M. campechiensis. Comparison of the two species will identify the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that distinquish the two species, and understand the physiological difference in heat‐shock challenges. This research will be useful for systematic improvement of hard clam aquaculture by allowing the analysis of genotypes and facilitating the study of relationship with phenotypes, in particular for complex economic quantitative traits, such as disease susceptibility and heat tolerance.

Development of germ cell transplantation methods for enhancing aquacultural production of migratory fishes
California Sea Grant
Project Summary:  This projest highlights the emerging method of germ cell transplantation, a potentially important aquaculture tool that can magnify the numbers of specific genetic lines of males and females without genetic modification. The work proposes to develop and optimize the transplantation technology in two economically important Pacific Coast species in commercial production: steelhead and white sturgeon. It will be experimentally determined which stage of juvenile development can produce a high number of transplantable germ cells for the two species to be studied.

Enhancing bivalve aquaculture through species improvement and diversification
New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium
Project Summary: This integrated project will support development of bivalve aquaculture in New Jersey and the northeastern region through species improvement and diversification. Specific objectives include, developing superior oyster stocks for high-salinity environments; improving growth of bay scallops to enable within-year harvest; developing surfclams for fast growth and heat tolerance to enable within-year harvest; and  transferring project results to New Jersey and regional shellfish farmers.

Expanding aquaculture of soft blue crabs: technology transfer and cost analysis of pond production and shedding phases
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will expand blue crab aquaculture in the U.S. through the demonstration and transfer of developed protocols for sustainable and economical production of peeler crabs. Its objectives include transfer of hatchery and pond production methodologies to North Carolina, transfer of pond production technology to the private sector, development of economic models for hatchery, pond, and shedding phases, and dissemination of project findings through demonstration and outreach materials. This project involves two Sea Grant programs, a private industry partnership, a technology transfer component involving Sea Grant Extension support, two diverse geographic regions, and has potential for advancement of sustainable aquaculture of soft blue crabs in the U.S.

Expanding Rhode Island aquaculture through a web-based, entry-level farm worker training program with model/learnings to other states
Rhode Island Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will provide an enhanced and online training curriculum for entry‐level aquaculture (farm) workers in Rhode Island, applicable and shared nationally, to bolster U.S. aquaculture production. Its objectives are: 1) Bolster/enhance an in-person, entry-level training curriculum for aquaculture farm workers in Rhode Island to include a comprehensive, adaptive training program ensuring worker safety, critical skills, and retention; 2) Target/expand the recruitment of prospective entry-level farm worker trainees through education regarding rewards/benefits of aquaculture as a career path; 3) Develop an online/web-based, broad-reach entry-level farm worker training, modeled from the bolstered program and applicable to a national audience; 4) Disseminate and pilot a “train-the-trainer” program nationally, via select pilot states, for expanded in-person and new online farm worker program.

Final steps toward commercialization of pompano aquaculture
Florida Sea Grant
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to overcome the hurdles for the commercialization of Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) in US aquaculture. The objectives are to improve feed conversion ratio (FCR) of pompano and reduce time to market through improved feed technology; improve survival of pompano through the benefit of dietary immunostimulants; and conduct technology transfer to industry partners.

​Increasing demand for U.S. farm-raised seafood in the food service sector through industry partnerships
New York Sea Grant
Project Summary: This project will increase end‐user confidence in U.S. farm‐raised seafood, and increase the demand for U.S. farm-raised seafood in the foodservice sector. This will be done by forming an effective network among Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension agents, state aquaculture coordinators, NOAA Fisheries Regional Aquaculture Coordinators, Regional Aquaculture Centers and the U.S. aquaculture industry partners in the area of foodservice education, developing a communications strategy to effectively and cost-efficiently reach the U.S. foodservice industry with a consistent message about U.S. farm‐raised seafood, and reducing user conflicts by providing science‐based information about the U.S. environmental and food safety regulatory framework.

Increasing opportunities for aquaculture of high value marine fish in Hawai`i
Hawai’i Sea Grant
Project Summary: This project will develop culture methods for the native marine fish species Pacific Threadfin, aka Moi (Polydactylus sexfilis), to overcome one of the highest permitting barriers to starting farms. The use of native species will help catalyze new mariculture business development and alleviate some of the obstacles that stymie progress. This project complements research to be done by this team on aquaculture of other native Hawaiian species under a recently awarded NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant.

Integrating Land and Sea Grant aquaculture research, extension and education at the University of Hawai’i
Hawai’i Sea Grant
Project summary: This project addresses one of the major challenges for enhancing aquaculture–the seamless transfer from scientists to stakeholders of scientific knowledge and resources to inform decision-making. The overall goal of this project is to establish an aquaculture program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) that leverages and integrates Land Grant and Sea Grant research, extension and education resources, including a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture demonstration center called the Tuahine Aquaculture Research and Education Center (TAREC) to address research and extension capacity needs of the industry.

Intensified aquaculture of clonal red macroalgae on panels deployed in land-based raceways and marine waters
Oregon Sea Grant
Project Summary: This project will develop new cultivation technology that intensifies the scalable production of economically-valuable red seaweeds (macroalgae) for marine aquaculture in the US. There are five objectives: 1) Develop & maintain clonal cultures of red macroalgae by mechanical cutting; 2) Develop a scalable inoculation system for automated seeding of macroalgae panels; 3) Assess biomass production of red macroalgae panels under controlled flow in raceway cultivation systems; 4) Deploy macroalgae panels in marine water and land-based raceway test beds; 5) Conduct Technical and economic analysis & outreach.

New high-resolution satellite-derived water-quality data informs sustainable aquaculture development
Maine Sea Grant
Project Summary: The objectives of this projects are threefold: (1) to facilitate technology transfer of new high resolution satellite imagery to bivalve aquaculturists, (2) to significantly augment a bivalve growth model (ShellSim) to be able to use the satellite imagery to prospect for optimal sites for American oysters, European oysters, scallops, and mussels, and (3) develop online tools, webinars, training to disseminate to growers and other practitioners interested in using satellite imagery for site prospecting in their own region.

Overcoming barriers to support the growth of land-based Atlantic Salmon production in the Great Lakes region
Wisconsin Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will address two major technical-biological challenges encountered when producing market-size Atlantic salmon in land-based systems, namely: 1) managing saprolegniasis (commonly termed “fungus”) during the parr – smolt early life stages, and 2) ensuring the flavor profile of the harvested fish.

PhytO-ARM, An Open-source Platform for Real-time Phytoplankton Monitoring, Data Sharing, and Automated Aquaculture Management
Woods Hole Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project will develop a platform called PhytO-ARM (Phytoplankton Observing for Automated Realtime Management); an extensible, open-source platform for multi-sensor real-time phytoplankton observation, data sharing, and automated aquaculture management.

Probiotic solutions to improve Pacific oyster larval growth and spat settlement
Oregon Sea Grant
Project Summary: This project will develop probiotic treatments that increase larval growth and fitness for the U.S. oyster industry, a large constituent of the national shellfish industry, using probiotic bacteria that significantly enhanced the growth of Pacific oyster larvae and increased disease resistance. The U.S. shellfish industry, which is valued at over $200 million, is dependent on the availability of high‐quality larvae to seed their crops. If larvae production at hatcheries is interrupted by mortalities or variable quality, it could have disastrous downstream effects for the farmers.

Production of reproductively sterile Atlantic salmon to maximize cost-effective and environmentally responsible U.S. aquaculture
Maryland Sea Grant
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a practical sterilization technology to produce large numbers of reproductively sterile Atlantic salmon for environmentally, economically and socially sustainable aquaculture. To achieve this goal, the project will 1) optimize a post-fertilization sterilization protocol to determine the most effective and economical conditions for large-scale production; 2) develop and optimize pre-fertilization sterilization protocols that may further reduce production cost; 3) study growth performance of sterilized and non-sterilized fish; 4) develop and implement plans for outreach, workforce training, and technology transferring to industrial partners.

Revitalizing and increasing resilience in soft shell crab aquaculture
Louisiana Sea Grant
Project Summary: The project’s goals are to increase survival of soft shell blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) under changing conditions, increase participation in the industry, and make the industry more resilient to natural hazards. The project’s objective are to 1) increase survival in crab shedding systems under changing conditions by experimentally measuring the role salinity has on the virus CsRV1, determine the best recirculated system to withstand changing conditions, partner with industry to document their Best Management Practices, and develop new management and handling practices where appropriate; and 2) exchange research results to the industry by determining startup costs, developing outreach materials, and sharing results through workshops in and beyond Louisiana.

Ventura Shellfish Enterprise: Implementing an integrative model for new shellfish aquaculture permitting and production in federal waters proximate to Ventura, California
California Sea Grant
Project Summary: The general objectives of this project proposal are to:(1) Develop a technically sound and defensible strategy to successfully obtain all required government entitlements necessary to establish twenty 100‐acre aquaculture permit sites in federal waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, proximate to Ventura Harbor; (2) Implement this strategy and obtain the necessary permits and entitlements, and complete associated environmental review documents; (3) Develop an effective monitoring and reporting program to monitor environmental impacts and evaluate project progress; (4) Collaborate with NOAA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure future landed product has a pathway for compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) and Seafood Sanitation Inspection Program (SSIP) guidelines for shellfish grown in federal waters; (5) Offer economies of scale to individual grower/producers to facilitate the participation of entities who might otherwise be precluded because of the significant regulatory process and costs associated with obtaining the required government approvals; and,(6) Prepare grower/producers for successful farming of the growing areas through business planning, training, and technology transfer. Note: This project is supported by a joint effort of the National Sea Grant College Program and the NOAA Office of Aquaculture.

Source NOAA Sea Grants