NOAA Sea Grant awards two grants for aquaculture workshops to California

Tomales Bay rack and bag oysters. Image: J. MacKay
The workshops will address growth, permitting and monitoring
October 31, 2016
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California Sea Grant has been awarded two new grants to host workshops on emerging issues in aquaculture, part of the National Sea Grant College Program’s $3.4 million in federal funding to support aquaculture research and outreach.

The funding, which leverages all federal dollars two to one with state matching funds, will support 11 aquaculture research projects and 23 projects to organize and conduct conferences and workshops to transfer aquaculture information. This announcement of competitive awards is part of Sea Grant’s overall effort to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable ocean, coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture.

Two of the workshop grants have been awarded to California Sea Grant. Extension Specialist Dr. Paul Olin will lead a workshop to help state regulators develop offshore aquaculture permitting and monitoring frameworks for California. Dr. Richard Starr, recently retired from his role as CA Sea Grant’s Director of Extension, will facilitate discussion between resource managers and professionals in the aquaculture and commercial fisheries sectors on issues affecting coastal economies.

Olin’s award will support “Phase 2” of a workshop and training series to help California prepare to manage offshore aquaculture farms. Two initial workshops in 2015 and 2016 have already identified emerging issues and research, which led to recommendations for the growth and expansion of offshore marine aquaculture in Southern California.

This new, additional funding will allow the California Offshore Aquaculture Permit Working Group to work with a professional facilitator to develop offshore aquaculture permitting and monitoring frameworks for the state of California, using the findings and conclusions from the prior workshops. The working group includes co-investigator and NOAA Aquaculture Coordinator Diane Windham, as well as co-investigators from the DFW Aquaculture Program, the San Diego Port District Aquaculture Coordinator, and the Nature Conservancy Fisheries and Aquaculture branch.

Starr’s award will provide a forum for professionals from California’s fisheries and aquaculture industries to meet directly with resource managers to discuss coastal economic revitalization. Starr identified the need for this forum in light of the rapid expansion of seafood demand and U.S. aquaculture operations, raising the potential for perceived competition with commercial fishing sectors for ocean space, market share, product quality, distribution, and branding.

The workshop will be held at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ new Center for Marine Aquaculture, and will identify opportunities and barriers for coastal communities seeking to diversify their economic base with these industries.

The National Sea Grant College Program has issued a total of $400,000 in federal funding to support conferences, workshops, training and technology transfer efforts focused on advancing aquaculture knowledge, management and collaboration. A complete list of aquaculture conference and training projects funded in the 2016 competition is available here.

The remaining $3 million in federal dollars will fund 11 aquaculture research projects, with a complete list available here. The projects include managing the complex profile of biotoxins threatening the shellfish industry of lower Chesapeake Bay, integrating mussel and long-line kelp structures and management in New Hampshire, and developing technologies to expand the supply of emerging marine finfish fingerlings for commercial offshore aquaculture systems among other topics.

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Our headquarters is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; we are one of 33 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.