Public Release: 

Small Business Innovation Research grants for aquaculture

NOAA Headquarters

NOAA is announcing today the funding of three aquaculture projects through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants program. These projects aim to tackle significant obstacles in the development of U.S. aquaculture and explore the technological and commercial potential of novel solutions. Read more about the projects below. You can read about all of the 2015 SBIR awards across NOAA at the Technology Partnerships Office's website.

Developing Ocean Acidification Resistance in Commercial Red Abalone

The Cultured Abalone Farm, LLC, Goleta, CA

Award: $96,647

The acidification of the oceans, caused by the increased uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is already affecting the farming of marine shellfish. However, some wild shellfish may be able to adapt to locally variable conditions in ocean chemistry. The Cultured Abalone Farm will explore this natural variation and develop and ocean acidification-resistant strain of red abalone. Red abalone is the most common form of abalone found on the West Coast, and the only species still harvested from the wild. The project will investigate wild populations using observations and genetic techniques, explore diets that convey resistance to farmed abalone, and research selective breeding.

Development of Genetics-based Selective Breeding Protocols for Improvement of the Mediterranean Mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and Advancement of Aquaculture

Catalina Sea Ranch, LLC, Terminal Island, CA

Award: $95,000

Mussel farming has been growing in popularity in the United States, and mussel farms were recently permitted in offshore federal waters on both the East and West coasts. Although the use of advanced genetic techniques to breed crops with desired characteristics (known as genetics-based selective breeding) has been widely used in agriculture, it is still being incorporated by the aquaculture industry. Catalina Sea Ranch proposes to use genetics-based selective breeding to breed mussels with desirable commercial characteristics. The project looks to investigate the genetics of different family lines of mussels and develop breeding protocols that can benefit the industry.

The Development of Sustainable, Multi-Seasonal, Multi-Species Marine Algal Aquaculture in Coastal Maine

Maine Fresh Sea Farms, Bristol, ME

Award: $399,999

Sea vegetables, such as kelp and other seaweeds, have a huge market worldwide, use energy from the sun, soak up carbon dioxide from the ocean, and can improve water quality as they grow. They can be used to make a wide array of products including fuel, feed, and chemical compounds, and they are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as sources of healthy, nutritional foods.

Maine Fresh Sea Farms has received a Phase II award to continue research and development from a Phase I project in 2014 that addressed multi-species year-round sea vegetable production in the coastal waters of Maine. The Phase II project will build a prototype multi-species, multi-seasonal farm, gather data on water quality and nutrients, and explore processing and marketing to ensure a clear path to commercialization for sea vegetable products.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from the commercialization of that potential.

NOAA's SBIR program seeks highly innovative projects with excellent commercial potential that directly benefit the NOAA mission.

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