$600,000 grant for aquaculture research in Maine

Blue mussel. Credit: DEI Blue mussel. Credit: DEI

A researcher at the University of Maine at Machias has received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the potential for new aquaculture markets for two shellfish in Maine.

The research aims to improve the growth and survival of blue mussels and Arctic surfclams in an effort to create new economic opportunities.

The grant will provide two years of funding as researchers at the university’s marine field station at the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education look at ways to enhance shellfish rearing methods and explore the commercial production potential of the two species. A major component of the project involves collaboration with two regional seafood businesses – Cooke Aquaculture and A.C. Inc.

Brian Beal, a professor of marine ecology at UMM and the lead investigator on the grant, says that the project will focus on improving aquaculture methods for growing blue mussels and Arctic surfclams for commercial markets, while also providing the partnering businesses with valuable market research on new aquaculture operations.

“We are exploring the viability of increasing cultured shellfish operations here in Maine,” said Professor Beal. “The US imports around 85% of its seafood, yet we have incredible potential right here in eastern Maine to supply seafood for the US and other parts of the world.”

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