New Hampshire 'AquaFort' among 22 projects earning NOAA Sea Grant

Researchers in New Hampshire have received federal funding to create an offshore aquaculture program that will be used to recruit fishermen in northern New England interested in raising steelhead trout and blue mussels.

Officials from the University of New Hampshire – which manages the state’s Sea Grant program – along with the state’s federal leaders announced the USD 747,673 (EUR 655,574) award last week. The grant was given to UNH for its new aquaculture program called “AquaFort.” It involves the hatching of rainbow trout in freshwater, and after eight months of development, the fish are transferred to the sea and become known as steelheads. 

The university already has permits for the AquaFort site, which will be located less than two miles south of the Isle of Shoals.

“Warming ocean temperatures and invasive species have caused a decline in sea creatures such as blue mussels and steelhead trout, which has negatively impacted New Hampshire fishermen and the seafood industry,” U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) said in a statement. “By increasing seafood production through aquaculture training for fishermen and farmers, this federal grant to the University of New Hampshire will help expand economic opportunity on the Seacoast.”  

The New Hampshire initiative was one of 22 projects that earned 2018 Aquaculture Research Awards grants by NOAA Sea Grant. All of the endeavors receiving a total of USD 11 million (EUR 9.6 million) will work on their projects over the next two to three years. Awardees must also receive a 50 percent match in funds from non-federal sources. 

The Rhode Island Sea Grant program received USD 745,815 (EUR 654,052) to develop an online training initiative for entry-level workers that’s designed to improve worker safety and hone the skills necessary to get and keep a job in aquaculture. The training program will include a “train-the-trainer” aspect that could lead to a national deployment. 

“Aquaculture is an important industry in the Ocean State,” U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) said in a statement. “This federal investment in a work training program will help create good-paying jobs and allow potential employees to gain critical skills needed in this industry.”

Hawaii’s Sea Grant program received a USD 749,815 (EUR 657,413) grant to establish an aquaculture program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa that will tie together land grant and sea grant resources and include a demonstration project.

The NOAA Sea Grant funding helps state and regional projects become economic engines for their communities. According to data from the agency, NOAA has invested USD 20 million (EUR 17.5 million) in projects across the country from February 2016 to January 2018. Those projects have helped spawn nearly 3,200 jobs and generate USD 168 million (EUR 147.2 million) in economic impact.

In all, NOAA Sea Grant received 100 applications for the most recent round of funding, with those projects requesting USD 48 million (EUR 42.1 million) in funding.

Photo courtesy of University of New Hampshire


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