The Aquaculture Research Institute of the University of Maine has been awarded USD 2.25 million per year of congressional programmatic funding from the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) for research on Recirculating Aquaculture Systems at the National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center.
In conjunction with an existing USDA-ARS Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement (NACA), this new funding will help establish ARI as a nationally recognized RAS research facility, focusing on shellfish and finfish species. Prioritized research includes the development of domestic broodstock, sustainable alternative feeds, the impacts of climate change, innovations in waste processing, reduction of environmental impacts, elimination of off-flavor compounds, and overall more energy-efficient systems at the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture (CCAR).
“We’re committed to expanding our knowledge and expertise in RAS to culture fish and shellfish in a way that’s productive and profitable while ensuring the highest standards of animal wellbeing. The goal here is to optimize production, efficiency and sustainability,” explained Deborah Bouchard, director of the Aquaculture Research Institute.
This USD 2.25 million in funding represents a significant investment not only for the future of the RAS industry but for workforce development as well. Several new full-time positions have been created through both ARI and USDA-ARS, enhancing infrastructure at CCAR and expanding the facility’s capabilities for cutting-edge research and development.
“This will allow ARI and USDA to continue to work on improving Atlantic salmon reproductive inefficiencies. Low eye-up rates have plagued the salmon industry for the past 15 years. A new reproductive physiologist will be hired that will address these inefficiencies. In addition, a new fisheries biologist will be hired that will address off-flavor and water quality as it relates to salmon grown in RAS,” said Brian Peterson, director National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center.