Two California Sea Grant projects awarded with aquaculture grant

NOAA’s funding will support Ventura shellfish and migratory fish projects.

STATEWIDE — Nearly two-dozen aquaculture projects, nationwide, were awarded $11 million in grant funding, it was announced in mid-October. The funding, granted by NOAA Sea Grant, was granted “to further advance the development of a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry in the U.S.”

NOAA funded 22 programs in various states, including two in California. The two projects are: Ventura Shellfish Enterprise and germ cell transplantation methods for aquacultural production of migratory fishes.

Ventura Shellfish Enterprise (VSE) will receive $311,036 to implement an integrative model for new shellfish production in the waters of or near Ventura Harbor. The enterprise would specifically establish 20 100-acer sites in the Santa Barbara Channel and collaborate with NOAA and the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure future landed product has a pathway for compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) and Seafood Sanitation Inspection Program.”

VSE hopes to establish regulated bivalve shellfish production in the Santa Barbara Channel. The aquaculture initiative would specifically grow Mediterranean mussels. Company representatives stated Ventura Harbor and the surrounding area are ideal for mussel farming.

The National Sea Grant College Program and the NOAA Office of Aquaculture jointly supported the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise project.

California Sea Grant, meanwhile, will receive $195,579 for the “development of germ cell transplantation methods for enhancing aquacultural production of migratory fishes.”

“This project 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,” NOAA Sea Grant staff stated about the germ cell transplantation project. “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,” NOAA Sea Grant staff continued.

All 22 projects funded by NOAA address certain priorities of the 2018 Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative. Those priorities, according to NOAA Sea Grant, include “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.”

Each project was funded for three years and includes a 50 percent match by non-federal partners. NOAA Sea Grant reportedly received 100 proposals requesting $48 million in federal funds. Previous federal funding, according to NOAA Sea Grant, has created a $78 million economic impact, supported 792 businesses and created 1,387 jobs.

NOAA has been actively pursuing aquaculture, or “Blue Economy,” opportunities nationwide, all as part of an effort to expand sustainable seafood production in the United States.

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