NOAA Sea Grant awards $3.5 million to improve sustainable aquaculture, strengthen seafood resources

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By Milthon Lujan

USA – NOAA Sea Grant today announced $3.5 million in federal funding to support two efforts aiding sustainable growth of U.S. seafood, one focused on improving coordination for marine aquaculture development and another that addresses COVID-19 impacts to seafood resources. Grant recipients for both efforts must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds.

The first effort establishes a partnership position between NOAA Sea Grant and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to build capacity and collaboration among Sea Grant, NCCOS and other stakeholders for environmentally, economically and socially equitable marine aquaculture development. The National Aquaculture Extension Coordinator will oversee outreach to stakeholders about coastal science products and resources developed by NCCOS, inform broad Sea Grant and NCCOS marine spatial planning efforts and facilitate a series of collaborative, regional workshops to advance marine aquaculture siting conversations. 

Maryland Sea Grant, competitively selected to lead this effort with an award of $600,000 over four years, named Jim LaChance to serve as the National Aquaculture Extension Coordinator. LaChance joined Maryland Sea Grant in March 2021 as Aquaculture Projects Coordinator. Prior to that, he completed a Knauss Fellowship with Senator Ed Markey’s office.

“This project offers a great opportunity to leverage the strengths of both the Sea Grant network and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. I look forward to furthering sustainable marine aquaculture development in the U.S. by engaging stakeholders, communicating about available resources and listening to stakeholder research and services needs,” said LaChance.

The second effort addresses ongoing and long-term impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on seafood resources, and strategies to increase the resilience of the coastal and Great Lakes seafood resources sector to respond to future disruptions.

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Projects were competitively selected from a national competition, with 13 projects awarded a total of $2.9 million for up to two years of implementation.

The selected projects:

– Continue NOAA Sea Grant’s efforts initiated via FY2020 COVID-19 rapid response funding;

– Support or promote the use of aquaculture products to restore wild fisheries, marketing, food security, consumer awareness and acceptance of seafood products, workforce development, tourism, and human health resources including mental health; and

– Encourage partnerships with industry through extension, communication, education, research, or a combination of these activities.

“Sea Grant supports sustainable seafood and the coastal and Great Lakes communities whose livelihoods and economies depend on seafood,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program. “As businesses and communities recover from the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, these projects will provide valuable knowledge and new resources to help strengthen the U.S. seafood industry now and into the future.”

Last year’s COVID-19 rapid response funding supported projects including research that purchased farm-fresh seafood originally intended for local restaurants and repurposed it to restore aquatic and marine environments. Learn more in Sea Grant’s Relief that Restores interactive storymap.

Download a full list of funded projects and descriptions here

Source: National Sea Grant College Program

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