Aquaculture News Winter Newsletter

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Aquaculture News

January 31, 2018

Director's Message 

There is a new sense of urgency and optimism regarding marine aquaculture. From the commercial watermen hoping to diversify their income, to entrepreneurs teaming up with seafood farmers, to conservation organizations seeking to restore species and their habitat, aquaculture is now recognized as part of the solution. 

In the process of “pushing the envelope” on smart design and responsible production, I know from experience that not every farm will succeed and that aquaculture hatcheries may not be able to return species or habitats to historic levels. Mistakes will be made and progress is likely to be uneven. This is a dynamic process and we need to continue to learn, adapt, and refine best practices. The alternative to fostering sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. is to increasingly rely on imports for our seafood and to consume other types of proteins. However, I’m optimistic that we can meet the complex challenges and unique opportunities we face moving aquaculture forward.

I am enormously proud of the work we have accomplished with you over the last 12 months. Our staff has helped secure and shape aquaculture grant opportunities, worked with researchers from around the globe to collaborate on shared needs and goals, created new outreach partnerships, and provided science support for more efficient and timely regulatory reviews. Some recent highlights include:

  • I joined 30 fishermen and state fisheries directors from the Gulf of Mexico region and the Lt. Governor of Louisiana on a trip to Maine to see firsthand how aquaculture can keep working waterfronts vibrant.
  • We increased our outreach to the nation’s aquariums to help create aquaculture messaging for their visitors.
  • Additional funding from Congress for pilot projects with seafood communities to increase domestic aquaculture production: we teamed up with the three regional fishery management commissions to administer a grants program for these funds.
  • Last year over $13 million in funds were awarded to aquaculture projects through Sea Grant, Saltonstall-Kennedy, and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs.
  • NOAA staff led colleagues from EPA, Army Corps, and Department of Interior in the design of a coordinated regulatory process for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico. The process is as close as we could get to “one stop permitting.” Lessons learned are being applied to the design of a similar framework by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.   

Looking forward to 2018, priorities for NOAA from the new Administration include: weather ready nation, improve responsiveness to extreme weather events, and expand blue economy opportunities. As many of you are aware, Secretary Ross has expressed great interest in reducing America’s reliance on seafood imports, expand export opportunities, and increase domestic seafood production through aquaculture and fisheries. Admiral Tim Gallaudet, the new Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Conservation and the Acting NOAA Administrator has a particular focus on the blue economy and aquaculture. My staff and I meet regularly with leadership within NOAA, DOC, USDA, and the seafood and aquaculture community and beyond to highlight the opportunities marine aquaculture presents and to plan a path forward to make aquaculture a vital part of U.S. seafood production. In the coming year we seek your ideas and help in fostering marine aquaculture around the nation. Some of these ideas include a national seafood or aquaculture initiative, regulatory streamlining, federal legislation, building public private partnerships for aquaculture R&D, and telling the story of aquaculture.   


Best wishes,


Dr. Michael Rubino

Director, NOAA Office of Aquaculture  

Michael Rubino, Office of Aquaculture


February 9-10

Oyster South Symposium in Charleston, South Carolina

February 19-22

Aquaculture America 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada

February 21-22

Second National Living Shorelines Technology Transfer Workshop in Oakland, California

March 11-13

Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts

March 18-22

National Shellfisheries Association Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington

June 19-21

SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Barcelona, Spain 



NOAA Awards $9.3 Million to Support Aquaculture Research

Energy Department Awards $18 Million to Develop Valuable Bioproducts and Biofuels from Algae

Sea Grant Awards Funding to Seafood for the Future Program to Fund New Ocean Farming Public Education and Outreach Program



Coastal Blue Carbon Approaches for Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief 

Role of Shellfish Aquaculture in the Reduction of Eutrophication in an Urban Estuary 

NOAA Lab News

The NEFSC Milford Lab-South Korea Connection

New Technology Examines Oyster Aquaculture Ecological Services

Atlantic salmon aquaculture farm.

Grant Funds Available for Regional Aquaculture Pilot Projects

As part of our efforts to foster responsible aquaculture and seafood security in the U.S. NOAA Fisheries has provided $1.5 million to support aquaculture pilot projects through the nation’s Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions. These competitive grants will be managed through the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commissions.

Each Commission is making $450,000 available to expand U.S. seafood farming operations and production. Through these pilot projects, emphasis is being placed on promising but less commercially developed technologies for finfish, shellfish, seaweed, and other relative newcomers to the domestic aquaculture industry. The programs also emphasize the development and deployment of economically and environmentally sustainable aquatic farming techniques and business practices.

The deadline for proposals is February 1, 2018. Information on eligibility and specific application requirements for each region can be found on Commission websites.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: Marine Aquaculture Pilot Projects

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission: Marine Aquaculture Pilot Projects

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission: Marine Aquaculture Pilot Projects

Scientists check a longline outplanting of sugar kelp at an experimental site near Coghlan Island, Alaska. Credit: Mike Stekoll, University of Alaska.

NCCOS Supports Development of Alaska Mariculture Siting Tool

NCCOS provided technical support to coastal managers and a team of Alaska scientists who are developing the Alaska Mariculture Map, a planning tool that will inform mariculture expansion in Alaska. The support included an evaluation of the types, sources, and relevance of various spatial data for aquaculture and an overview of best practices for the design of state-level mariculture spatial planning tools. 

Ladys Island Oyster hatchery

Sea Grant Seeks Proposals for Aquaculture Research

The NOAA National Sea Grant College Program 2018 Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes National Aquaculture Initiative federal funding opportunity is now open. 

Depending on appropriations, NOAA National Sea Grant College Program (NOAA Sea Grant) expects to have available a total of $7,000,000 to $11,500,000 across fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020 as part of the Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative (NAI). As part of the NAI, this competition is designed to foster the expansion of a sustainable U.S. ocean, coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture sector by addressing one or more of the following priorities:

  • (a) supporting the development of emerging systems or technologies that will advance aquaculture in the U.S., including projects that will help stimulate aquaculture production by nascent industries;
  • (b) developing and implementing actionable methods of communicating accurate, science based messages and information about the benefits and risks of U.S. marine aquaculture to the public; and
  • (c) increasing the resiliency of aquaculture systems to natural hazards and changing conditions.

Complete proposals are due from eligible parties to Sea Grant programs on March 2, 2018 at 5 p.m. local time. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to their Sea Grant Program one to two months prior to the Sea Grant program application deadline to receive guidance regarding proposal development and discuss their proposed project(s). 

Proposals from Sea Grant programs are due in by March 30, 2018 

Japan Natural Resources (UJNR) Aquaculture Panel Proceedings Available 

Through the long history of UJNR, the Aquaculture Panel has contributed to the development of aquaculture in both countries by means of various cooperative activities, including the exchange of scientists, the exchange of literature and the promotion of joint research projects. The following proceedings of the United States - Japan Natural Resources (UJNR) Aquaculture Panel Symposium have been published and can be accessed at the following link:

41st in Sapporo, Japan (2013)

-  42nd in La Jolla (2014)

-  43rd in Nagasaki, Japan (2015)

Ribbed mussel raft.

Ribbed Mussels Could Help Improve Urban Water Quality

Ribbed mussels can remove nitrogen and other excess nutrients from an urban estuary and could help improve water quality in other urban and coastal locations, according to a study in New York City’s Bronx River. The findings, published in Environmental Science and Technology, are part of long-term efforts to improve water quality in the Bronx River Estuary. Read more from the study here

Washington Eelgrass and Shellfish Aquaculture Workshop Report

Earlier this year, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service West Coast Region convened over 70 scientists and agency, tribal, and shellfish industry representatives for an all-day workshop to discuss inconsistencies and challenges related to the management of native eelgrass (Zostera marina) and shellfish aquaculture in Washington. The workshop provided an educational and networking opportunity for its many participants. It also set the stage for future, longer-term efforts to address the challenges discussed. Review the report here

NCCOS Helps Maryland Sea Grant Address Aquaculture Industry Concerns

NCCOS scientists, Suzanne Bricker and Amy Freitag, participated as facilitators in a Maryland Sea Grant Aquaculture Researcher Roundtable meeting at the University of Maryland, College Park to develop research ideas and potential projects to support development of sustainable aquaculture. Read more here