Public Release: 

Bigelow Laboratory exploring collaborations to enhance Maine's aquaculture competitiveness

May 26 event to unite research and industry

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

The Office of Research Commercialization and Applications at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is hosting 50+ people involved in Maine's aquaculture industry on May 26 to explore how research and industry might join together to increase the resilience and international competitiveness of Maine's shellfish, finfish, and algal (both micro and macro) aquaculture businesses. The program will run from 9:30 am - 3:00 pm at the Laboratory's East Boothbay Ocean Science and Education Campus.

"Our scientists are known globally for their groundbreaking research," says Bigelow Laboratory Executive Director Graham Shimmield. "By joining the forces of research and industry, we can help increase the competitiveness of Maine's aquaculture industry by employing innovative approaches to increase the industry's productivity and profitability. What makes this approach different than others is that we hope to achieve a true collaboration - sharing of costs and expertise - to provide Maine's aquaculture industry with a competitive advantage in the regional and global marketplace."

The working session "Research Solutions for Aquaculture" is designed as an opportunity for those involved in Maine's aquaculture industry to talk openly with collaborators and competitors and to explore options for how collaborative research across the industry sector can help them prosper. During this day-long event, aquaculture business owners, processors and marketers will have the opportunity to examine how research might be able to provide answers to some of their most pressing problems and see if there might be ways to collectively pool resources to address issues ranging from maximizing production, enhancing products, to increasing nutritional value.

The day will start with Bigelow Laboratory scientists sharing their insights about what they have learned and are learning about some of the pressing issues facing the industry - maximization of sea vegetable production, optimization of shellfish and finfish feed quality, lease site assessment, and disease prevention. From there, attendees will take a tour of Bigelow Laboratory's facilities and learn how they are used to test, explore, and seek out research solutions to industrial problems. A free lunch featuring a selection of sea vegetable products and other locally produced aquaculture food items will be followed by simultaneous breakout sessions on specific topics. Participants and hosts will explore ways that collaboration and cost sharing might help resolve problems, improve efficiencies, and maximize productivity and profits.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Sea vegetable expansion: ways to improve efficiency of seed production and preservation

  • Shellfish feed enhancement: the impact of maximizing highly unsaturated fatty acid content of phytoplankton

  • Enhancement of nutritional value of feed: how solutes can enhance palatability and productivity of fish feed

  • Carrying capacity site assessment: how modeling can help achieve greatest potential yield

  • Disease prevention: boosting oyster defenses against pathogens

"We are delighted by the industry's positive response to our invitation to capture possible synergies of working together to strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of the aquaculture industry in Maine," adds Shimmield.

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Detailed information, including registration material, is available at https://www.bigelow.org/index.php/news/current-news/research-solutions-aquaculture.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, an independent not-for-profit research institution on the coast of Maine, conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography to large-scale ocean processes that affect the global environment. What we are learning is essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides. Recognized as a leader in Maine's emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory's research, education, and enterprise programs are spurring significant economic growth in the state.

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