Aquaculture projects receive $1.4 million in grants from NOAA

NOAA Sea Grant announces the award of $1.4 million in grants to the University of Maine for two projects to further advance the development of a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry in the United States.

The National Sea Grant College Program awarded $725,365 to Heather Hamlin, Deborah Bouchard and Ian Bricknell of the Aquaculture Research Institute to research an integrated approach to addressing sea lice control in the commercial culture of Atlantic salmon.

The economic impact of sea lice infestation to the U.S. salmon aquaculture industry is estimated at $15 million annually and $740 million globally. Sea lice infestations remain the greatest barrier to continuing and expanding marine salmon aquaculture. This proposal will address gaps in knowledge of sea lice biology and control methods, such as integrated pest management, and new, ecologically sensitive chemical compounds and their effects on nontarget species, such as lobsters.

Oyster Suitability Index map for the Midcoast region, incorporating average sea surface temperature, turbidity, and chlorophyll concentration for the month of July.

Hamlin will convene meetings with industry and regulators to understand the factors that prevent adoption of new sea lice control techniques and identify other impediments faced by the salmon industry.

A team led by Damian Brady and Emmanuel Boss of the UMaine School of Marine Sciences was awarded $692,216 for a project to inform sustainable aquaculture development with water quality data.

Two of the biggest decisions made by any prospective shellfish farmer are what species to grow, and where to grow it. New tools and technologies are available to help aquaculturists, but they need help accessing and interpreting information.

Building on the success of previous Sea Grant work that established satellite imagery as an effective tool for aquaculture site selection, the team will use the maps they have developed to refine a bivalve growth model to identify optimal growing locations for American oysters, European oysters, scallops and mussels. They will share their findings in training sessions with growers and other practitioners interested in using satellite imagery for siting shellfish farms in their own region.

These projects were among the 22 awarded out of 100 proposals requesting $48 million in federal grant funds. The projects, which include a 50 percent match by nonfederal partners, will be conducted over a three-year period.

Sea Grant’s investment in aquaculture research, outreach and education programs continues to make a difference in Maine’s coastal communities. Between February 2017 and January 2018, Sea Grant invested approximately $1.4 million in aquaculture research, technology transfer and outreach in Maine and reported $5.9 million in economic impacts, including support of 123 businesses and 200 jobs.

Contact: Catherine Schmitt, 207.581.1434