The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded $16m (€14.53m) through its Sea Grant mechanism to support US aquaculture research.
The Sea Grant funding will be distributed to 42 research projects and collaborative endeavours aimed at developing sustainable aquaculture in the US, which currently imports around 85% of its fish and seafood. Projects in receipt of the grants must match at least 50% of the funding provided by the NOAA with additional funding from non-federal sources; and must meet one of the three primary needs identified by NOAA:
- Advanced aquaculture collaborative programmes, where integrated teams of researchers work together to accelerate aquaculture developments, in order to generate a sustainable, focused future for the industry;
- Exploring new aquaculture opportunities, focusing on new – and potentially higher risk – projects with a minimal research base; and
- Meeting social, economic and behavioural research needs in aquaculture, addressing critical knowledge gaps within the US aquaculture sector and the communities it serves.
Jonathan Pennock, Director of the National Sea Grant College Programme, said: “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. These investments will help advance US aquaculture in sustainable, thoughtful ways using the best science and talent across the country. For each project, connections with industry members and other stakeholders is an important component: using the Sea Grant model, we want to ensure research goes far beyond the lab or field site to meaningfully inform a growing industry.”
Funding issued by Sea Grant contributed an economic benefit to the US aquaculture sector of $65m (€59.01m) in 2018, creating and maintaining 345 businesses and 841 individual jobs. Already in 2019, Sea Grant has contributed to the employment of 111 researchers and professionals studying and developing aquaculture across the country.