As the rapidly warming Gulf of Maine contributes to the dwindling supply of fish fry favorites like cod, fishermen also suffer, their catch limits and livelihoods curtailed considerably. An innovative aquaculture project from New Hampshire Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension aims to provide supplementary year-round income to New England fishermen and deliver sustainable seafood to dinner tables throughout the region. At the mouth of New Hampshire’s estuarine Piscataqua River, salmon-like steelhead trout grow within nets suspended from a UNH-designed raft, which is surrounded by lines of mussels and sugar kelp. Called integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, this method addresses a key concern of aquaculture — concentrated fish waste — by tapping the bio-filtering mussels and kelp to remove excess nitrogen from the water.
"What people are most drawn to is the fact that it’s raised in New Hampshire, as opposed to trout or salmon from Norway or Iceland or Chile."
— Michael Chambers, research scientist,
UNH and New Hampshire Sea Grant
"Anyone looking at the seafood landscape anywhere in the world right now has to accept the idea that responsible aquaculture is the key to sustainable seafood."
— Evan Mallett, chef and owner, Black Trumpet Bistro
“Because this method is environmentally sustainable, it’s easier for fishermen to obtain permits,” says Michael Chambers, aquaculture specialist with UNH’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, who’s working with local fishermen and entrepreneurs on the project. And the harvest is delicious as well as sustainable: One Portsmouth restaurateur calls the UNH steelhead trout “legendary” in culinary circles.
Watch the video about UNH Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture Research here.
Originally published in UNH Magazine Spring 2016 Issue