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FFAR funds four unique aquaculture projects

Four grants totaling $1.5 million awarded to enhance economic opportunity for U.S. clam, halibut, scallop, yellowtail and sea cucumber producers.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) recently announced four grants totaling $1.5 million for research to improve economic opportunities for farmed fish, shellfish and marine invertebrate production and increase the supply of domestically produced foods in the U.S.

The FFAR awards were matched by five companies, one industry association and three universities, for a total of $3 million in funding for research that includes best practices for aquaculture producers and economic feasibility studies. All research results will be shared publicly with the goal of stimulating aquaculture markets.

FFAR “is committed to expanding sustainable protein availability,” FFAR executive director Sally Rockey said. “We are optimistic about the potential for these four unique projects to help expand economic opportunities for farmed fish and shellfish producers in the U.S. and, as a result, increase our supply of domestically produced, nutritious foods.”

After a public call for applications was issued in 2017, awardees were chosen, and each was required to secure non-federal funding to match the FFAR grant. The following individuals were selected:

* Hugh Cowperthwaite, fisheries program director of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), is pioneering new scallop production techniques with the aim of establishing an economically viable market for farmed Atlantic sea scallops, beginning in Maine. Cowperthwaite will investigate the economic viability of a Japanese scallop production technique that has been shown to grow scallops faster and produce larger meat yields. CEI is providing the required matching funds to double a $300,000 FFAR grant.

* Dr. Matt Hawkyard, Oregon State University research associate, and collaborators are developing more efficient methods for delivering nutrients to commercially raised marine fish, with the goal of improving production of California yellowtail and California halibut -- two high-value fish species. The researchers expect the technology to be applicable to other species and available for industry adoption within three years of the project's completion. A $275,792 FFAR grant is being matched by Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute (HSWRI), Oregon State University and Reed Mariculture.

* Robert Koenitzer, McDowell Group senior project manager; Dr. Charlotte Regula-Whitefield, co-directors of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Assn. (SARDFA), and collaborators are conducting an economic feasibility study to examine the potential for an aquaculture facility to produce Alaskan sea cucumbers -- a high-value marine invertebrate. Sea cucumbers are primarily exported to markets in Asia, with some distribution in the U.S. Currently, commercial-scale production of the species does not exist in the U.S. SARDFA is matching a $50,000 FFAR grant.

* Dr. Steven Roberts, Kenneth K. Chew endowed professor at the University of Washington, and collaborators are researching how to improve Pacific geoduck clam production by altering environmental conditions at key stages of the cycle and identifying genetic markers associated with optimal traits. Results will help inform best practices for breeding high-yielding clams and will be applicable to other shellfish species. The $877,006 FFAR grant is being matched by Baywater, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the University of Rhode Island and the University of Washington.

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