Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the Maine Aquaculture Association based in Hallowell has been awarded $400,499 to fund a research project aimed at strengthening and expanding the aquaculture industry. This funding, awarded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sea Grant Program, will support the research of potential new and underserved markets for Maine-grown aquaculture products and seek partnerships between aquaculture and wild capture supply chains.
“Maine’s aquaculture industry has undergone significant growth and diversification in recent years, creating new jobs and economic opportunities in our state,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “Despite this growth, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new obstacles for aquaculture farmers, who rely heavily on the restaurant industry to keep their businesses afloat. We welcome this investment from NOAA that will help this resilient sector weather the coronavirus pandemic and future challenges.”
"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on all seafood producers. The work that will be done in this project will be critical in helping our members adapt to and recover from the challenges they are facing," said Sebastian Belle, Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.
Specifically, the industry-propelled, interdisciplinary research project seeks to address two objectives:
1) Identify barriers and opportunities in existing aquaculture and other seafood supply chains to support increased consumption of Maine marine aquaculture products within U.S. markets; and
2) Evaluate consumer preferences for Maine marine aquaculture products with varying attributes and branding.
Senators Collins and King both advocated for the creation of SEAMaine, a strategic roadmap to strengthen Maine’s marine economy funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Today’s funding announcement builds upon SEAMaine’s efforts. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has long worked to provide and protect funding for the National Sea Grant Program. NOAA’s Sea Grant Program supports coastal communities through research and education. The program aims to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal and marine resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment.