NOAA grants $9.3 million for aquaculture research

Funding will help various Sea Grant programs in fostering new opportunities, educating public.

NATIONWIDE — More than $9 million in free money was allocated to 32 projects nationwide as part of an effort to advance a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry, federal government officials announced Oct. 31.

Grants were awarded to various National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grants through one of two competitions for aquaculture funding. One competition awarded grants to increase aquaculture production, while the other funded programs addressing impediments to opportunities.

NOAA allocated $9.3 million, in all, to various Sea Grant projects across the country, including three in California.

“The projects include basic and applied research to improve efficient production of seafood, permitting of new businesses, management of environmental health issues and economic success of aquaculture businesses,” NOAA Sea Grant staff stated in a release.

Three Sea Grant projects in California received nearly $400,000 in grants for various aquaculture projects.

USC Sea Grant, for example, earned $147,737 in funding to address public misperceptions about marine aquaculture in the United States.

“This collaborative project is being led by the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Seafood for the Future program and includes partnerships with California Sea Grant, the NOAA Office of Aquaculture, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA National Ocean Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Seafood Nutrition Partnership,” NOAA staff explained about the USC Sea Grant award.

“A series of five short videos will be produced to increase the public’s knowledge about the many types aquaculture production, show science-based applications used by aquaculture farms, and familiarize audiences with how to cook aquaculture seafood dishes,” NOAA staff continued.

California Sea Grant, meanwhile, received funding for two separate projects. The first project, which received $145,834 from NOAA, aims to solve impediments to the co-culture of seaweeds and shellfish.

“This project addresses an additional impediment to developing integrated shellfish-seaweed culture as a means to ensure sustainable aquaculture productivity into the future, namely through the design of integrated land-based systems themselves, including tests of the optimal recirculation rate to maximize the pH buffering (for shellfish) and nutrient subsidy (for seaweeds) benefits of integrated culture,” NOAA staff stated in its funding announcement.

California Sea Grant was also awarded $98,470 to study impediments and pursue opportunities for aquaculture projects along California’s coastal ocean.

“Many offshore aquaculture proposals in coastal U.S. waters have faced impediments related to potential or real conflict with multiple uses, most notably existing commercial and recreational fishing activities,” NOAA staff stated. “The goal of this project is to improve the process for considering and integrating multiple uses of ocean space, specifically capture fisheries and aquaculture.”

NOAA also awarded $140,000 to the Sea Grant Law Center to study ways to overcome impediments to shellfish aquaculture through legal research and outreach.

“Legal and permitting issues are consistently ranked as a critical impediment to domestic aquaculture development,” NOAA staff stated in its Oct. 31 announcement. “The regulatory landscape facing the aquaculture industry can also be confusing and complicated, and so this project takes a multi-institutional, national collaboration approach to examine impediments to shellfish aquaculture across the United States.”

Results from Sea Grant Law Center’s efforts could benefit port districts in San Diego and Ventura, as officials in both regions are pursuing aquaculture opportunities.

NOAA, in all, awarded 21 projects with $2,631,005 in federal grants to address impediments to aquaculture opportunities. Another 11 projects were funded with $6,662,532 in federal funds to increase aquaculture opportunities.

Officials reviewed 126 proposals requesting more than $59 million in grants; only 32 projects were awarded funds.

NOAA photo

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