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Sea Grant awards $4.7 million to strengthen economics of U.S. aquaculture

Sea Grant awards $4.7 million to strengthen economics of U.S. aquaculture

Twelve projects selected to develop business management and market analysis tools for aquaculture industry

Sea Grant today announced $4.7 million in federal funding to support 12 research projects to advance the understanding of the economics of aquaculture businesses and provide the industry with important market information to aid sustainable growth in the U.S.


“Sea Grant is committed to understanding the science of sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. while also strengthening the economics and market possibilities for sustainable aquaculture,” said National Sea Grant Director Jonathan Pennock. “These projects will provide valuable knowledge and new resources to help strengthen and expand the U.S. aquaculture industry.” 


Farm fresh black sea bass on ice are prepared for market (left, credit Wade Watanabe). Black sea bass is popular with consumers and can be prepared by sautéing and adding lime dressing (right, credit Vanda Lewis). Images courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant, recipe for Sautéed Black Sea Bass with Lime Dressing available on

The new projects:

  • Support broad, non-proprietary research to address critical gaps with respect to aquaculture economics and market needs; 

  • Make that information available to U.S. aquaculture businesses and management agencies; and 

  • Build the capacity of Sea Grant and its partners, including Sea Grant aquaculture extension personnel and industry stakeholders.


The selected projects will develop business management and planning tools and conduct economic and market assessments across multiple aquaculture sectors and geographies.   


Download a full list of funded projects and descriptions here.


These investments are consistent with Sea Grant’s Focus Area of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA) and the Sea Grant Network’s 10-year Aquaculture Vision, both which support NOAA and Department of Commerce aquaculture goals.


Grant recipients must match 50 percent of their funding with non-federal funds. NOAA Sea Grant received 41 full proposals meeting minimum submission requirements that requested over $17 million in federal funds.


Chef Jeff Trombetta separates leaves of east coast-grown kelp during an introduction to kelp cuisine event in 2018 (credit Judy Benson | Connecticut Sea Grant).

Sea Grant’s investment in aquaculture in 2019 produced economic benefits worth $80 million, including sustaining or creating 1,052 jobs and 408 businesses. In 2020, Sea Grant employed or partially funded 111 professionals working on aquaculture around the country to study, communicate, identify needs or transfer research to industry members and the public.


The U.S. currently imports greater than 85% of its seafood, resulting in a $16.8 billion trade deficit. As seafood consumption continues to rise, wild-caught fisheries alone cannot meet the seafood demands of the U.S. population. NOAA, and its Sea Grant partners, are committed to advancing sustainable U.S. aquaculture.


Read more on Sea Grant’s “Relief that Restores” aquaculture work as well as the 2020 update on Sea Grant’s aquaculture investments. Additionally, see some of the impacts resulting from Sea Grant-funded aquaculture research and learn more about aquaculture in the U.S.

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