University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM) Professor Daniel Benetti has been awarded $967,000 by Florida Sea Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The funding is just a portion of $9.3 million NOAA has slated for 32 projects around the country to help spur the development and growth of shellfish, finfish and seaweed aquaculture businesses. All projects include public-private partnerships and will be led by Sea Grant programs across the nation.
With each project, every two dollars of federal funding is matched by one dollar of non-federal funds, bringing the total investment to more than $13.9 million. UM successfully leveraged with matching funds from an ongoing research agreement with Aqquua, LLC, a US company investing in advanced technologies to further aquaculture development in the nation.
The projects include basic and applied research to improve efficient production of seafood, permitting of new businesses, management of environmental health issues, and economic success of aquaculture businesses.
The project led by Benetti and his team will advance hatchery technology for captive spawning and production of three economically important marine fish species–red snapper, Nassau grouper and hogfish. Over the next three years, the funding will be used to create an affordable supply of seed for at least one of the species.
“Unlike terrestrial agriculture producers who have access to a variety of seed sources with data-supported optimal growth conditions, existing and prospective aquaculture producers do not have access to reliable commercial-scale quantities of tropical marine fish species for land-based or offshore aquaculture operations,” said Benetti, Professor and Director of Aquaculture at the Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society at the Rosenstiel School.
He adds that in order to grow the marine aquaculture industry in the U.S., development of commercially available seed stock sources of ecologically and economically important species is needed as well as new technology to live-ship seed stock.
“This project aims to resolve these issues and will allow for commercial producers to have access to low-cost, reliable supplies for the culture of a variety of native marine finfish,” said Benetti.
“These results will likely be felt throughout the fishing community as it may help relieve pressure on wild stocks without negative economic impacts associated with reducing catch.”