More than a million dollars in federal funds will be coming to the Maine Sea Grant program at the University of Maine Orono to pay for research aimed at making the state’s aquaculture industry more sustainable.

The university is eligible to receive $1.6 million, according to a news release Monday by the University of Maine. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a total of $16 million for 42 projects nationally that comprise the 2019 Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative.

“Thousands of Mainers rely on marine industries for their livelihoods, and aquaculture is a promising area for growth,” Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins said in a joint statement. “With these new resources, the Maine Sea Grant program will be able to conduct additional research and analysis that supports the sustainability of this emerging sector of the Maine economy – from work on food safety and quality to developing new markets and providing critical information to policy makers.”

The United States imports 85 percent of its seafood, resulting in a $14 billion trade deficit, NOAA says. As seafood consumption continues to rise, wild-caught fisheries have been unable to keep up with demand.

NOAA says the imbalance has created an opportunity for the aquaculture industry to fill the gap. Aquaculture is the farming of fish, seaweed, shellfish, aquatic plants, quahogs and other marine organisms.

 

 

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