Aquaculture News Winter Newsletter

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Aquaculture News

March 4, 2019

Director's Message 

Happy belated New Years to our colleagues and stakeholders. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of those that reached out to our office during and after the federal shutdown. When congressional leaders and the President reopened the federal government after 35 days the NOAA Aquaculture Program began the task of reopening communications channels, checking in with partners, and reprioritizing our many projects. As we continue our policy, science and perception work to foster sustainable aquaculture in 2019 I would like to take a look back on our achievements in 2018. Last year marked the first ever inclusion of aquaculture as a priority under the Department of Commerce Strategic Plan, the first commercial harvest of shellfish from the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the expansion off grant opportunities to support oyster genetics and disease work, and the introduction of new aquaculture legislation. In fiscal year 2018 we continued to address both the physical and bureaucratic limits of sustainable aquaculture with projects like:

  • The first-ever comprehensive review of federal, state, and local shellfish permitting systems around the nation. This NOAA funded project compared and contrasted 22 shellfish aquaculture permitting systems in all coastal states in the continental United States and Alaska. The study revealed that state shellfish aquaculture varies significantly and, in many instances, challenges which exist for one state have already been experienced and addressed by another. Sharing and maintaining a depository of shellfish aquaculture permitting information like that contained in this report will enable coastal managers and producers to quickly identify proven solutions and address industry needs.
  • Last year also marked the completion of the first-of-its-kind review of the aquaculture science work at NOAA’s labs. Aquaculture and fisheries experts from diverse fields including industry, academia, and federal agencies served on a peer review panel and made recommendations to improve our research. Using the information from this review, we are working to better align our research priorities with agency strengths and industry needs.  
  • Thanks to FDA and NOAA’s Seafood Inspection program, there is now a pathway for shellfish producers to sell product harvested in the EEZ. Catalina Sea Ranch, one of the first offshore mussel farms permitted in the EEZ, is now harvesting mussels and entering product into interstate commerce. The compliance pathway that FDA developed as part of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, with assistance from NOAA Seafood Inspection program, enables Catalina Sea Ranch (or any shellfish grower in federal waters) to meet National Shellfish Sanitation Program requirements in federal waters, thus ensuring shellfish health as well as product traceability.

On the grants front, NOAA’s Aquaculture Program distributed over $19 million in grants for finfish, seaweed, and shellfish aquaculture projects in FY18. Many of these grants were awarded through traditional competitions like Sea Grant, Saltonstall-Kennedy, and NOAA’s Small Business Innovation Research grants. We also expanded our grants partnership with the Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions. Through the Commissions, NOAA Fisheries has provided funds for aquaculture pilot projects and the development of regional oyster aquaculture research consortia. Creating regional research consortia will allow NOAA and partners to target multi-year research toward specific, regionally relevant topics.

NOAA’s six regional aquaculture coordinators continue to work with state and federal agencies to move projects through permit reviews, NEPA reviews, and to bring science information to issues like entanglements and interactions with sensitive habitats. Mike Rust, our lead aquaculture scientist at the Office of Aquaculture, continues his work as the current chair of the Aquaculture Working Group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. At the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA staff have been creating tools for aquaculture siting. These tools integrate marine Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and ocean science to deliver comprehensive ocean reports for industries, coastal managers, conservation organizations, and the general public. NOAA staff will be providing a demonstration of these innovative mapping tools during Aquaculture America and we encourage you to stop by to explore the technology.

We are looking forward to discussing our new priorities and milestones for 2019 at upcoming events like Aquaculture America and Seafood Expo North America and we encourage you to reach out to NOAA staff, regional coordinators, and Sea Grant extension agents with your questions and ideas.


Best wishes,


Dr. Michael Rubino

Director, NOAA Office of Aquaculture


March 7-11

Aquaculture America in New Orleans, Louisiana

March 17-19

Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts

March 30

NOAA Open House in Silver Spring, Maryland

April 30-May 1

Fish 2.0 U.S. Aquaculture Innovation Workshop and Pitch Session in Seattle, Washington

June 4-6

Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2019 in Washington, D.C.

June 10-14

SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Bangkok, Thailand


Grant Funds Available for Regional Oyster Aquaculture Consortia. Applications due by March 15, 2019.

Grant Funds Available for Marine Aquaculture Pilot Projects. Applications due by April 15, 2019.

Three National Sea Grant Aquaculture Funding Opportunities 

Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Fiscal Year 2019 Funding Opportunity. Applications due by March 29, 2019.

2019 NOAA California Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program. Applications due by April 5, 2019.


Seaweed aquaculture: Cultivation technologies, challenges and its ecosystem services

The nutrient footprint of a submerged-cage offshore aquaculture facility located in the tropical Caribbean

Application of open water integrated multi-trophic aquaculture to intensive monoculture: A review of the current status and challenges in Korea

Evaluation of Rapid, Early Warning Approaches to Track Shellfish Toxins Associated with Dinophysis and Alexandrium Blooms

Findings from Coastal Georgia Ecosystem Services Valuation Published

Bivalve aquaculture and eelgrass: A global meta-analysis

NOAA Lab News

Internship position for veterans is available with NOAA's ocean acidification research group in Mukilteo, WA.

Milford Lab’s international appeal

Julie Rose, Research Ecologist with Aquaculture Systems & Ecology

Chesapeake Bay oyster

Grant Funds Available for Regional Oyster Aquaculture Consortia

The Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions, in partnership with NOAA Fisheries, are seeking proposals to form regionally focused research consortia that will address critical research needs surrounding oyster aquaculture. As part of our efforts to foster responsible aquaculture and seafood security in the US, NOAA Fisheries has provided $3 million to support regional oyster aquaculture consortia 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 Interstate Marine Fisheries Commission is making approximately $850,000 available annually for the funding period of August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2024 (dependent on appropriations). The funding goal is to form Research Consortiums that will focus on oyster genetics, disease, environmental interactions, regulatory challenges, and economic modeling. Additionally, regional partnerships are encouraged to classify and preserve natural genetic variation in oysters.

Pre-proposals must be submitted as a single file by e-mail no later than 5:00 p.m. CST on Friday, March 15, 2019. Please see the request for proposals below for complete proposal details, qualifying requirements, and submission instructions.

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: Regional Oyster Aquaculture Consortia

Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission: Regional Oyster Aquaculture Consortia

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission: Regional Oyster Aquaculture Consortia

Study Evaluates Technologies for Early Warning of Algal Toxins in Shellfish

As harmful algal blooms and related human health concerns increase, there is an increasing need to identify and test technologies that may improve existing monitoring programs. A 2018 publication in the journal Marine Drugs supported by the NCCOS Competitive Research Program, documented the efforts of a team of university, state, and federal scientists to evaluate promising technologies for detection of toxins associated with recurrent Alexandrium and Dinophysis blooms on Long Island, NY. These algae can produce classes of toxins which cause paralytic and diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (PSP and DSP), respectively. Read more about the study

Marine Aquaculture Pilot Projects FY19 Funding Opportunity 

The Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commissions are each making funds available to expand seafood farming operations and production to offset the seafood trade deficit in the US. 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 April 15, 2019. Information on eligibility and specific application requirements for each region can be found through the NOAA Fisheries grants announcement

Marine Finfish Aquaculture

2018 Census on Aquaculture Deadline Extended to March 22, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistic Service, has extended the deadline to submit completed 2018 Census of Aquaculture surveys to March 22, 2019. Farmers that have not participated in prior Censuses may call 1-888-424-7828 to acquire a Census survey. Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) surveys aquaculture farmers for production, sales, labor, land use and other information to inform national and state programs that benefit U.S. agriculture. Participation in the Census helps to document the need for U.S. aquaculture to be included in agriculture programs (research, insurance, water conservation, disaster assistance, etc.). Federal and state agencies, legislators and the public often lack an understanding of the scope and breadth of U.S. aquaculture. By taking the time to complete your Census form, the data collected will more completely convey the national, state and local importance of U.S. aquaculture. National aquaculture associations such as the National Aquaculture Association as well as state associations that advocate for industry concerns with regulatory agencies and with elected officials use these data to justify the types of reforms and changes that are necessary. Please do your part to assist our industry by participating in the 2018 Census of Aquaculture. Individual farm data collected by USDA is not shared with federal or state agencies and is only made available as compiled data. For more information about the 2018 Census of Aquaculture, please visit: index.php.

FUS 2016 Aquaculture Production Highlights

New Report Highlights Landings, Value and Economic Impact of U.S. Fishing

Fisheries of the United States provides data on commercial landings and value and recreational catch. It also includes data on the fish processing industry, aquaculture production, imports and exports, and per capita seafood consumption. Fishing and seafood consumption in the United States increased in 2017, with landings and value of U.S. fisheries continuing a strong, positive trend. In 2016, estimated freshwater plus marine U.S. aquaculture production was 633 million pounds with a value of $1.45 billion. Atlantic salmon is the leading species for marine finfish aquaculture (35.7 million pounds), while oysters have the highest volume (36.6 million pounds) for marine shellfish production. For more information on aquaculture production and commercial landings visit the Fisheries of the United States 2017 report page.

U.S.-Japan Bilateral: Two Nations, One Enduring Aquaculture Relationship

The United States and Japan may be separated by thousands of miles, but they have a long-standing partnership through a common goal — advancing the science of sustainable marine aquaculture. Recently, both countries brought together experts to discuss how environmental change affects aquaculture and the science and tools needed to address these changes.

Since 1971, NOAA Fisheries and the Japanese Fisheries Research and Education Agency have collaborated through the U.S.-Japan Natural Resources (UJNR) Aquaculture Panel. An annual meeting framework, the Panel allows scientists to share research results, new technology, and approaches to sustainable seafood farming. Read more about the current and past UJNR collaboration.

Oyster larvae

Review of NOAA's Aquaculture Science Program Released

NOAA’s regional fisheries science centers—working closely with industry, non-government organizations, and academia—have made fundamental, positive contributions to the understanding of aquaculture for decades. This is just one of the findings of a new peer review panel report on the state of NOAA’s aquaculture science. Held in 2016–2017, the review was the first-ever external nationwide examination of NOAA’s aquaculture science and research programs. The resulting report highlighted the high quality of research conducted by agency experts for many years, along with gaps and challenges facing the increasingly important aquaculture program. Read the full story here

NOAA Ocean Today film crew.

On the Reel: Aquaculture Videos You May Have Missed

The Nature Conservancy in Washington has partnered with NOAA and shellfish farmers to deploy GoPro cameras on farms. This underwater footage is capturing how shellfish gear interacts with local species. Watch the video here

The Salty Generations: Follows the California aquaculture farmers as they grow sustainable local projects to meet local seafood demand. Watch the video here

Species in the Spotlight White Abalone Recovery: One of eight abalone species in California, white abalone is critically endangered. Find out what scientists are doing to bring back this iconic sea snail in Southern California. Watch the NOAA produced video here