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Aquarium Fish Breeding Expertise Will Help Educate on Sustainable Aquaculture

The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of several partners on a team that was awarded a $750,000 NOAA Sea Grant to fund sustainable fish breeding and raise awareness about aquaculture among the public and commercial fishers.

Twospot snapper fish

Credit: Ken Kurtis - Reef Seekers Dive Co.

September 29, 2022

The Aquarium of the Pacific is part of a team led by the New England Aquarium and Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, that was awarded a $750,000 grant by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program. The funds will support the aquariums in expanding their breeding programs and developing educational outreach initiatives on sustainable aquaculture. The breeding efforts will focus on fourteen species that are already important in the collections of public aquariums. The best practices learned in raising these species for aquarium display will be shared for potential aquaculture applications.

Just as agriculture refers to growing food products on land, aquaculture is a term for growing fish, shellfish, and algae in water environments. Aquarium professionals use aquaculture methods to sustainably breed fish and other marine species to help endangered species recover or for aquarium exhibits.

The aquariums will share knowledge with other institutions interested in developing similar programs and educate the public about aquaculture through interactive storytelling exhibits. The aquariums will also produce open-source aquaculture guides and share their research via StoryMaps. These layered stories will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into sustainably rearing the fish on display. The interactive story maps will help the public gain a better understanding of the process and the importance of the program’s impact on marine conservation.

The program will also share data with commercial fisheries. The species of fish that will be the focus of this project may also be of interest to the seafood industry, and the expertise gained may help increase the amount of seafood grown responsibly and sustainably through aquaculture in the United States. Marine aquaculture has the potential to balance the need for more healthy seafood protein and reduce pressure on wild-caught fish.

Partners on the team receiving the award include Aquarium of the Pacific; John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago; National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland; the North Carolina Aquariums (Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island at Manteo, and Fort Fisher at Kure Beach); and the University of Massachusetts Boston.