University of Maryland Extension

University of Maryland Extension to partner in land-based aquaculture program through Maryland Sea Grant

Fish at the Baltimore Fish Market
Recirculating Aquaculture Systems will help reduce the carbon footprint of imported fish.
Image Credit: 
Photo by Edwin Remsberg Photography

 


University of Maryland Extension is partnering with Maryland Sea Grant and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to study aquaculture of Atlantic salmon in land-based fish farm facilities.

The $1.2 million grant, awarded through the National Sea Grant office, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will fund an effort to increase domestic aquaculture, thereby reducing pressure on wild populations and lowering the associated seafood trade deficit, calculated at $16 billion in 2017, according to NOAA.

UMD Extension will bring on a specialist to work with a regional research and technology team to evaluate Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) to raise salmon in areas closer to population centers, lowering the cost of production as well as the carbon footprint created by the transport of seafood. 

“Sea Grant is excited to work with our partners in research and industry to develop a roadmap that will help policymakers and federal agencies promote an economically feasible and environmentally sustainable land-based domestic aquaculture industry,” said Fredrika Moser, Director of Maryland Sea Grant.

The new Extension specialist will work with partnering Sea Grant institutions in Maine and Wisconsin, as well as the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Morgan State University, the USDA National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, and the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute in West Virginia. Industry partners and collaborators include Superior Fresh in Wisconsin, Whole Oceans, LLC and Nordic Aquafarms in Maine, and American Salmon in Maryland, among others.

“We’re excited to partner with Maryland and Wisconsin Sea Grant and experts in the technology to gather as much science-based information about these systems as they develop and evolve,” said Maine Sea Grant director Gayle Zydlewski. 

Led by the grant’s lead principal investigator, Yonathan Zohar, chair of the UMBC Department of Marine Biotechnology, the research allows direct assessment of RAS systems and their capacity, which recycle water and treat the waste with beneficial microbes, increasing sustainability. "The new Extension specialist will work directly with implemented systems, and coordinate workforce training and public education outreach on the value of aquacultured salmon,” said Bill Hubbard, State Sea Grant Extension Program Leader at UME Extension, and one of the PIs on the project.

“This research is critical in terms of promoting industry development in the United States. It’s still a very young industry here. There’s a tremendous development potential as we see it,” said Nordic Aquafarms president Erik Heim. “There’s a learning curve in this industry. This kind of research can disseminate knowledge and lower the entry barriers for new players as well as help established players grow.”

To learn more about the grant and associated Sea Grant aquaculture research, go to https://seagrant.noaa.gov/News/Article/ArtMID/1660/ArticleID/2755/Sea-Grant-awards-16-million-to-advance-US-aquaculture.

To learn more about the position opening for Recirculating Aquaculture Systems Extension Specialist, go to https://ejobs.umd.edu/postings/74029.

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