ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine at Orono received a $1.6 million grant to advance sustainable aquaculture in Maine.

According to a release from the university, Maine Sea Grant researchers at the University of Maine were granted the money from the NOAA National Sea Grant to lead four projects in collaboration with the aquaculture industry, management, and community partners. 

“Thousands of Mainers rely on marine industries for their livelihoods, and aquaculture is a promising area for growth,” said U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. 

According to NOAA fisheries, the United States imports 85% of its seafood, which has resulted in a $14 billion trade deficit- leading to new opportunities in aquaculture to meet demands of seafood consumption.

“These new funds will help enable the next level of sustainable development for Maine’s seafood economy and brand, while addressing working waterfront and community needs,” says Gayle Zydlewski, director of Maine Sea Grant and a professor in the UMaine School of Marine Sciences. 

In the release, 42 of the projects nationwide are said to be targeted in one of three areas. 

Ten will focus on accelerating the development of collaborative networks. 

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Sixteen will explore new, and sometimes higher-risk, aquaculture opportunities. 

Sixteen others will look to fill gaps in social, behavioral and economic knowledge relating to aquaculture and communities it impacts and serves. Maine received awards in all three areas.

“Through its support of innovative production methods and thoughtful policy development, Sea Grant is helping ensure that the growth of U.S. aquaculture is sustainable, helps preserve opportunity in working waterfront communities and remains economically viable in a competitive world market,” said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

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