USDA Invests in Research to Improve Domestic Aquaculture Production

Dan Aquaculture, Industry News Release

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced grants to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. These awards were made through the Aquaculture Research Program authorized by the Competitive Special and Facilities Research Grants Act, administered by NIFA.

aquaculture research“By 2030, it’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of fish consumed globally will be produced through aquaculture,” said NIFA Director, Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is important to foster a sustainable aquaculture industry in the United States to support nutritional security and job creation in rural America.”

Aquaculture involves the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of freshwater and marine species of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. NIFA Aquaculture Research Program grants support the development of a globally competitive and profitable U.S. aquaculture industry through investments that help improve domestic aquaculture production efficiency, sustainability, safety, marketing, information sharing, and access to global science-based information and advanced technologies. NIFA provides leadership in coordinating federal activities related to aquaculture through the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture, under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science.

Grants are made through a competitive peer review process involving an external panel of experts. Four FY17 aquaculture grants totaling $1.2 million are recommended for funding:

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $320,883
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $261,613
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County, Catonsville, Maryland, $321,165
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County, Catonsville, Maryland, $320,984

Among the newly awarded projects, Auburn University will develop a cost-effective vaccine for the U.S. catfish industry to fight columnaris disease, which kills catfish and other cultured and ornamental freshwater fish worldwide. Another project at the University of Maryland Baltimore County will develop an oral vaccine to help combat infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), a disease that affects trout and salmon.

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA Website.

Among previous aquaculture projects, Virginia Polytechnic Institute researchers looked at ways to improve the profitability of U.S. aquaculture and help newer markets attract and sustain capital. The research resulted in metrics that may increase domestic investment opportunities. Researchers at the University of Connecticut have helped foster environmentally and economically sustainable sugar kelp operations in southern New England by developing seeding and grow out techniques at the UConn lab and on seaweed farms on Long Island Sound. This project has helped boost the production of native kelp, providing a consistent supply while reducing the need to harvest wild seaweed.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/Impacts, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA#NIFAImpacts.