Connecticut Sea Grant awarded $2 million for aquaculture projects

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The Connecticut Sea Grant will lead a pair of new aquaculture initiatives after receiving a $2 million grant from the National Sea Grant program.

In a news release Thursday, the Connecticut Sea Grant said it would lead the establishment of a National Sea Grant Seaweed Hub using $1.1 million in federal funds, as well as a $1.2 million effort to promote the growth of southern New England shellfish aquaculture.

The seaweed hub will offer science-based resources on seaweed research and extension, and planning and outreach for government agencies, seaweed growers and stakeholders in culinary and nonfood sectors, the Sea Grant said. The shellfish project will engage the public, news media and decision-makers about the industry's socioeconomic and environmental effects, as well as expand training for growers and those who make calls on aquaculture permitting.

Connecticut Sea Grant received two of just 10 National Sea Grant program awards, which totaled $16 million for 42 projects selected among 136 proposals.

"The level of success in this national competition testifies to the importance of aquaculture in Connecticut and the quality of the players involved," Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant, said in a statement. "This incoming funding is great news for economic development in our state."

Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement that the state's shoreline supports thousands of jobs, and that the federal funding would help Connecticut "continue the economic growth of this sector."

With a separate pair of federal grants totaling more than $450,000, the Connecticut Sea Grant announced it also will contribute to two programs, including an effort to help the emerging seaweed industry by developing regulations or guidance documents on the sale of seaweed in its whole form as a food, and a research project to help build a diverse seafood-processing workforce and boost resilience in coastal communities.

The agency said that, along with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and other Sea Grant partners, it is committed to fostering the growth of a sustainable and properly regulated aquaculture industry, in part to reverse a $14 billion trade deficit as the U.S. imports 85 percent of its seafood.

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