UM Scientist Awarded Grant Aimed to Increase U.S. Aquaculture Production

By UM News

UM Scientist Awarded Grant Aimed to Increase U.S. Aquaculture Production

By UM News
The award is part of $9.3 million NOAA has slated to help spur the development and growth of shellfish, finfish and seaweed aquaculture businesses.

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) Professor Daniel Benetti has been awarded a $967,000 Florida Sea Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The award is part of $9.3 million NOAA 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.

For each project, every $2 of federal funding is matched by $1 of non-federal funds, bringing the total investment to more than $13.9 million. UM successfully leveraged its matching funds through an ongoing research agreement with Aqquua, LLC, a U.S. 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.

Benetti and his team’s project 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.

Filling that gap and growing the marine aquaculture industry in the U.S., Benetti said, will require the development of commercially available sources of seed stock for ecologically and economically important species, as well as new technology to live-ship the 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.”

RSMAS, aquaculture