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Pingree Announces $2 Million Federal Investment to Strengthen Maine Aquaculture

NOAA Sea Grant funding will support aquaculture projects at the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, University of Maine, Maine Sea Grant, and the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research

  • Aquaculture - stock

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced $2.12 million in federal funding to strengthen Maine’s aquaculture industry. Awarded through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant program, the funding will support sustainable aquaculture projects at the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, as well as continue funding for additional projects at the University of Maine and Maine Sea Grant.

“Year after year, the Sea Grant program protects thousands of acres of coastal ecosystems, generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development, and creates thousands of jobs across the country,” said Pingree. “As a longtime supporter of the Sea Grant program and an advocate for it through my role on the House Appropriations Committee, I’m thrilled aquaculture projects in Maine are being invested in. This funding is yet another example of how Sea Grant is fostering innovation and entrepreneurship to support Maine’s working waterfront and coastal communities.”

The funded projects in Maine are as follows:

  • Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center: $749,999
    “Cracking the Shell”: A Collaborative Approach to Developing Hatchery Production of the Atlantic Sea Scallop

    This 3-year project will establish reliable best practices for larval rearing and settlement protocols for sea scallops, identify sea scallop hatchery microbiomes as they relate to health status, and examine the larval immunocompetence of sea scallops and its relevance to larval survival. In addition, the project will establish reliable best practices for sea scallop broodstock conditioning and spawning, evaluate the economics of commercial scale hatchery production, and engage with stakeholders to create a community of practice.
  • University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research: $234,487
    Domestication and Breeding of Lumpfish to Accelerate Successful Commercialization and use for Sea Lice Biocontrol in the Northeast U.S. 

    Lumpfish are used in Norway, Scotland and Eastern Canada as cleaner fish for biological control of parasitic sea lice on farmed salmonids, primarily Atlantic salmon. The 3-year project seeks to establish a geographically diverse, self-sustaining U.S.-sourced breeding colony of lumpfish from wild caught juveniles by refining lumpfish broodstock capture and husbandry protocols, conditioning fish for out-of-season spawning, establishing and refining lumpfish hatchery production and protocols, and screening fish for pathogens and microbes. By the end of the project, the researchers will have established a diverse broodstock population sourced from wild fish captured from Maine territorial waters in the Gulf of Maine. Broodstock reproductive timing will be manipulated in captivity with photoperiod and temperature for hatchery production of juveniles. The resulting U.S.-sourced supply of lumpfish juveniles will greatly benefit the U.S. salmon aquaculture industry.

NOAA Sea Grant is also continuing support for 11 advanced aquaculture collaboratives initially funded as part of Sea Grant's 2019 National Aquaculture Initiative, including two projects in Maine:

  • University of Maine: $709,093

Nutritional Strategies for Improved Larval Production of Marine Finfish with an Emphasis on Seriola sp.

This project seeks to develop the capacity and knowledge to produce and refine microparticulate finfish larval feeds and evaluate the effects of diets on the performance (growth and survival) of larval California yellowtail and yellowtail amberjack. Outcomes of the project activities will help increase larval performance and juvenile production of seriolids, which will aid in development and expansion of aquaculture of seriolids.

  • Maine Sea Grant: $423,539

Supporting Industry Needs Through Maine Aquaculture Hub

This project seeks to continue the work of the Maine Aquaculture Hub to support sustainable development of the aquaculture sector across the state by implementing activities identified in the newly released 10-year Maine Aquaculture Roadmap. Project activities will consist of outreach event, workshops and training activities. In addition, a needs assessment will be used to evaluate and document the needs of different demographic groups interested in training through the Aquaculture in Shared Waters program. Project outcomes include maintaining and strengthening relationships between the Hub and members of the aquaculture sector, gathering feedback and insight from the industry on needs and future directions of interest for progress, engaging the Hub network as a whole through convenings, an update economic impact assessment of the industry, implementation of aquaculture outreach and education needs identified by Hub participants, and strengthening and diversifying training programs. This project will benefit the Maine aquaculture industry, coastal communities and their economies, and the general public.

NOAA Sea Grant announced approximately $14 million in federal funding across four strategic areas for improving U.S. aquaculture: early-stage propagation strategies; marine finfish juvenile production technologies; continued support of advanced aquaculture collaboratives; and creation of the aquaculture information exchange. Click here for a complete list of funded projects.

For over 50 years, NOAA Sea Grant has supported coastal communities through research, extension, and education. In 2021, Sea Grant helped create and sustain more than 11,000 jobs and has generated an estimated $519.5 million in economic development—nearly half of our nation’s $1.2 billion aquaculture economy. 

Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, where she prioritized increased funding for NOAA Sea Grant in the Fiscal Year 2023 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.


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