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Improving Environmental Sustainability and Competitiveness of U.S. Marine Aquaculture

Description:

The purpose of this subtopic is to develop innovative products and services to support thedevelopment of an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable marineaquaculture industry in the U.S.in a way that is compatible with healthy marineecosystems and other users of coastal and ocean resources.As marine aquaculture technology moves from research to operations, aquacultureproducers need affordable and reliable techniques, products,and services to support growth andeconomic viability of sustainable aquaculture operations. There is also a need forreliable and affordable equipment, instruments, tools and techniques to assess the potential risks and benefits of marine aquaculture facilities and to monitorany impacts of marine aquaculture operations on marine ecosystems.

NOAA’s mission includes enabling sustainable marine aquaculture to maximize economic and social benefits and provide safe seafood. Enabling the development of sustainable marine aquaculture figures prominently in NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan and in NOAA’s recent new Policy for Marine Aquaculture (currently in draft form and awaiting final release after public comment). The three areas of focus for SBIR grants in aquaculture this year closely align with these guiding principles. They are:

1.    Alternative feeds

2.    Improved health management

3.    Novel production technologies and techniques

 

1.        Alternative feeds

 

Summary:  Currently available aquafeeds are highly dependent on fish meal and fish oils.  These cost of fish meal and fish oil has increased dramatically in recent years, reducing profit margins in finfish aquaculture operations.  In addition, some question whether the forage fish from which fish oil and meal are derived can continue to be sustainably managed as demand for aquafeeds continues to increase.  New diets and ingredients are needed which successfully replace these marine components with non-traditional sources of protein and oils that result in sustainable and economical feeds.  There is a need to meet the nutritional requirements of marine species in all life stages (from hatchery to market size), including use of diets that rely less on fish oil and fish meal without sacrificing the human health benefits of seafood consumption.

 

Project Goals:  Develop aquafeeds that successfully replace fish meal and fish oils with novel ingredients from sustainable sources, including  biological or chemical methods for de novo production of  long chain n-3 fatty acids and/or high value nutritional products from marine algae.  Reduce the “fish in, fish out” ratio for cultured species.

 

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Research and development geared towards the development of sustainable replacements for fish meal and fish oils in aquafeeds, or the development means to produce fish meal and oil from seafood byproducts (e.g. fish trimmings).

 

Deliverables include reports from trials of the proposed diets showing biological and economic feasibility of the new feeds.

 

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Prototype pilot-scale trials of the products developed in phase I showing biological and economic feasibility of the feeds under commercial conditions.

 

2.        Improved health management

 

Summary:  Disease is one of the main causes of losses in aquaculture operations. Transmission of disease from wild to farmed animals and vice versa is also a concern in aquaculture operations.  Better therapeutants and techniques are needed to prevent, diagnose, and manage diseases in aquaculture operations.

 

Project Goals:  Develop improved products and tools for preventing, diagnosing, and controlling disease in marine aquaculture operations.

 

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Execute research and development of preventive measures, vaccines, diagnostic tools, and other management techniques for marine aquatic diseases that impact aquaculture operations.  Report to show promise for commercial application of such techniques.

 

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Prototype trials of the techniques and products developed in phase I showing biological and economic feasibility under commercial conditions.

 

3.        Novel production technologies and techniques

 

Summary:  As U.S. aquaculture develops to fill the gap between domestic demand and supply, new technologies and techniques are needed to help the industry develop in a sustainable way.  Sustainable production and management technologies and techniques complement the improved feeds and health management focus areas.

 

Project Goals:  Development of improved aquaculture technologies and techniques and management measures for raising marine organisms to market size in land-based, coastal, and in open-ocean grow-out facilities with careful monitoring, minimizing, and mitigating of environmental impacts.  Examples of projects considered under this focus area include projects to develop technologies and techniques related to:  production of fish, shellfish, and marine algae in hatcheries; evaluation and selection of appropriate sites for marine aquaculture operations and prevent or reduce effluents and escapes from facilities; and engineering technologies (e.g. cage designs, moorings, cleaning and feeding systems).

 

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Research and develop improved aquaculture techniques and management measures for raising marine organisms in a sustainable way. Report to show promise for commercial application of such techniques.

 

Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:  Prototype trials of the techniques and products developed in phase I showing biological and economic feasibility under commercial conditions.

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