person diving in ocean
Aquaculture research in Pohnpei (Photo credit: Andre P. Seale)

The University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) received nearly $1.4 million to establish a new aquaculture-focused collaborative program in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region and explore new aquaculture opportunities.

To fully integrate aquaculture research, outreach and education in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant and its partners were awarded nearly $1.2 million to revitalize, solidify, and expand an aquaculture-focused, collaborative program that will be socially, geographically, and economically inclusive.

person holding sponges
Aquaculture extension faculty from Hawaiʻi Sea Grant provide expertise in growing farmed sponges.

Darren Lerner, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant director and principal investigator, said “This funding will assist in creating a hub which fully integrates research, extension, and education services directed towards supporting the continued development and enhancement of indigenous aquaculture practices and the aquaculture industry in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.”

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant was among several Sea Grant programs around the country to receive funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The 42 funded projects will help spur the development of a sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture industry in the U.S.

“These investments will help advance U.S. aquaculture in sustainable, thoughtful ways using the best science and talent across the country,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of the National Sea Grant College Program.

Exploring potential new aquaculture industries

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant was also the recipient of two additional grants totaling $200,000. One project, titled “Culture of Native Bivalve Species to Expand Mariculture Opportunities and Improve Coastal Environments,” will develop hatchery and nursery methods for selected bivalve species such as the black-lip pearl oyster and other saltwater clams in Hawaiʻi and the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands.

The other project titled “Exploring the Potential for Sustainable Capture-Based Aquaculture of Spiny Lobster (Panulirus spp.) in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia,” aims to test the feasibility of growing wild spiny lobster to form a new aquaculture industry in the Western Pacific.

For more on the grants, go to the Hawaiʻi Sea Grant website.

—By Cindy Knapman

person diving in ocean