New Hampshire Sea Grant will receive $1.4 million to expand aquaculture research in New Hampshire, NOAA Sea Grant announced. The funding will support two projects: an offshore aquaculture system growing steelhead trout and blue mussels and research that will mitigate microbial safety issues associated with shellfish aquaculture.
As the aquaculture industry continues to rapidly evolve, early detection of pathogens affecting shellfish is necessary to prevent emerging microbiological safety issues.
More than $700,000 will go to the creation of a commercial-scale offshore aquaculture system called the AquaFort that will serve as a training platform to recruit fishermen and farmers from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts to participate in workshops and daily operations of farming steelhead trout and blue mussels. NH Sea Grant’s current Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) system is a prototype for the to-be-built AquaFort that will be deployed at the permitted UNH open aquaculture site (approximately 1.5 miles south of the Isles of Shoals). Michael Chambers, aquaculture extension specialist for NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension, will lead this two-year research program designed to increase sustainable seafood production and add to the diversity of viable aquaculture practices in New England.
A research project that seeks to assess and mitigate microbial safety issues associated with shellfish aquaculture also received more than $700,000 in funding. As the aquaculture industry continues to rapidly evolve, early detection of pathogens affecting shellfish is necessary to prevent emerging microbiological safety issues linked to changing ecosystem and climate conditions. This research project will address regulatory constraints that limit U.S. shellfish aquaculture production by developing microbial detection technologies and approaches for evaluating and refining aquaculture practices. Led by NH Sea Grant associate director Steve Jones, assistant director for research and research associate professor of natural resources, and Cheryl Whistler, professor of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences and director of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at UNH, the research efforts will build upon prior NH Sea Grand-funded studies of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in oysters.
Funded projects were successful in addressing specific priorities in the 2018 Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative, which aims to advance the marine and coastal aquaculture industry across the U.S. In this grant cycle, NOAA Sea Grant awarded $11 million to 22 aquaculture projects nationwide.