Australia: The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is among the recipients that will share $9.3 million in research grants from NOAA aimed at further developing the nation’s marine and coastal aquaculture industry.
“This country, with its abundant coastline, should not have to import billions of pounds of seafood each year,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These grants will promote aquaculture projects that will help us reduce our trade deficit in this key industry.”
The grants were awarded through two competitions to help spur the development and growth of shellfish, finfish, and seaweed aquaculture businesses. 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.
All projects include public-private partnerships and will be led by university-based NOAA Sea Grant programs. With each project, every two dollars of federal funding is matched by one dollar of non-federal funds, bringing the total investment in these research projects to more than $13.9 million.
At Woods Hole, $539,793 is being awarded for the program, Northeast U.S. Marine Aquaculture Production by Pre-permitting Federal Ocean Space.
“The project team will work with federal and state agencies to identify promising areas of federal waters off the coast of New England and then pre-permit these areas for broad categories of marine aquaculture, including longline and on-bottom shellfish culture and large-scale kelp culture with a focus on native species and low-impact grow-out technologies identified as particularly promising by the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association,” a statement from WHOI explains.
“They will establish a mechanism for current and prospective aquaculture operators to qualify to use portions of these pre-permitted areas for farming operations, and transition that mechanism entirely to NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture (or another appropriate agency) at the conclusion of the project,” it says.
According to NOAA, marine aquaculture production in the U.S. lags behind that of other major seafood producing countries. One of the most frequently cited reasons for this is the complexity and cost of the process for obtaining permits to farm seafood in U.S. waters. Obtaining a permit to farm seafood in federal waters requires an extensive process of review and consultation with several agencies.