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Improving Seed Production for Marine Shellfish Aquaculture in the United States


Summary:  Shellfish represent the largest sector of marine aquaculture in the United States, accounting for approximately two thirds of marine aquaculture production. Domestic shellfish production provides a source of seafood for growing demand, creates coastal jobs and business opportunities, builds habitat for important commercial and recreation species, restores native populations, protects shorelines, and provides ecosystem services such as improvement of water quality. In recognizing the broad suite of economic, social and environmental benefits domestic shellfish production provides, NOAA established the National Shellfish Initiative in 2011 with the goal to increase populations of bivalve shellfish in our nation’s coastal waters through sustainable commercial production and restoration activities.

Hatcheries and controlled nursery systems are playing a greater role in commercial and restoration aquaculture. Shellfish hatcheries are at an early stage of development, with many opportunities for technological improvement. Shellfish seed production, hatching and larval survival are consistent bottlenecks for commercial shellfish production. Proposals are requested for research towards innovative products and services to improve shellfish seed production. Priority is given to research that addresses these key bottlenecks to boost domestic commercial shellfish production and in turn enhance ecosystem services, increase our sustainable seafood supply and create economic opportunities for coastal communities.


Project Goals:  New technologies, products and methods are needed to improve commercial shellfish seed production. Projects that would support production improvements can include but are not limited to: technologies, methods or seed strains developed for disease prevention or resistance (vaccines, systems to minimize, eliminate and control pathogens, hatchery water treatment technologies), early disease detection (real-time monitoring systems), ocean acidification resistance, acclimation or mitigation, increased seed production (performance traits, live food quality, food deliver, tools to assess reproduction and maturation potential), improved reproduction (heritability and genetic correlation estimates, selective breeding) or larval survival. As ocean acidification continues to impact our domestic shellfish industry, new technologies or methods that address this increasingly prevalent issue are especially essential.


Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:


·         Identify key bottlenecks that will be addressed

·         Execute research and development of techniques and management measures to address these bottlenecks


·         Proof of concept

·         Report showing promise for commercial application of developed technology/technique


Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:


·         Prototype trials of the techniques and products developed in Phase I


·         Detailed report on developed technology/technique showing biological and economic feasibility under commercial conditions

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