NOAA awards $3.6 million in funding for sustainable marine aquaculture projects and research

Grant for research into dietary prebiotics for marine fish included in NOAA awards
September 20, 2006

An award for research on improved diets for warmwater and coldwater marine fish was among 11 competitive grants awarded by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  for sustainable marine aquaculture demonstration projects and research this week.

The 2006 National Marine Aquaculture Initiative (NMAI), which is managed by the NOAA Aquaculture Program  and administered by the NOAA Sea Grant at NOAA Research, awarded  $3.6 million in funding for projects that included land-based, coastal and open-ocean projects.

“The 2006 National Marine Aquaculture Initiative awards underscore NOAA’s commitment to work with our research partners to advance aquaculture production technology, health and nutrition of cultured species and address environmental and policy issues,” said Dr. Michael Rubino, manager for the NOAA Aquaculture Program.

The 2006 NMAI grants range from $199,000 to $505,000 and will support projects that assess the commercial potential of marine aquaculture, the feasibility of stock enhancement and environmental impacts of aquaculture in various environments. It will also support research on key aquatic animal nutrition and health issues. Specifically, the 2006 projects focus on genome mapping of striped bass, culture of California yellowtail, enhancement of cobia, assessment of environmental impacts of offshore cage culture and commercialization of bait shrimp farming as well as use of dietary prebiotics on warm water and coldwater marine fishes. This grant was awarded to Dr. Delbert Gatlin, Texas A&M University to improved the growth and survival of all cultured marine fish species through diet. The project will test the effect of several compounds on the digestive systems of juvenile red drum and salmon. Researchers will be assessing growth, performance, nutrient digestibility, intestinal health, and immune system competence. Potentially, all cultured species could benefit from this type of nutritional research.

This year’s grant selection attracted applicants from universities, nonprofit organizations, commercial organizations, individuals, and federal, state, local and Indian tribal governments. NOAA received more than 200 proposals seeking more than $75 million in funding.

“It’s clear that the demand is there for research on all aspects of aquaculture.  The level of expertise and breadth of aquaculture experience that scientists and researchers brought to the 2006 competition is truly impressive,” said Dr. Leon Cammen, director of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program.
Since 1998, NMAI has funded a total of $15 million in projects to support research to boost the domestic production of commercially and recreationally valuable marine shellfish and finfish species. Projects have responded to key scientific, engineering, environmental and economic questions for aquaculture, which focused on five major categories. These categories include candidate species, health and nutrition, best management practices and ecosystems monitoring and management, engineered production systems, and legal and operational frameworks.

The initiative also supports the U.S. Ocean Action Plan which acknowledges the growing significance of domestic marine aquaculture for seafood production, and the need for a federal regulatory framework for marine aquaculture.

In 2007 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Related links:

NOAA Fisheries Service

Grant Recipients for 2006

Project Descriptions for 2006

Overview of NOAA's Aquaculture Research

Backgrounder on the National Marine Aquaculture Initiative

List of Research Projects Funded through the Initiative from 1999-2004

Secretary of Commerce Announces 2006 Awards