New Hampshire Sea Grant is launching six new research projects that will focus on New Hampshire’s marine environment, building resilient coastal communities and economies, promoting healthy coastal ecosystems, and improving knowledge of the environment. The two-year funded research projects scheduled for 2022-2023 will be led by scientists from New Hampshire institutions and will incorporate outreach and education efforts as essential parts of their plans. The projects represent a research investment of $1.4 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other non-federal matching funds. Many programs focus on aquaculture – and you can read more about them here.
Team LuMP – lumpfish mapping project
The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming parts of the oceans. We are already seeing changes in the range of some marine species like the black bass. A unique species that is expected to change as the waters warm is the lumpfish – a small “cleaner fish” that is increasingly being used in aquaculture overseas as a natural solution to parasites on fish like salmon. . In the United States, lumpfish have never been harvested, so any population changes are likely related to climate change. Lumpfish distribution in the Gulf of Maine has already changed, but we don’t understand exactly why.
Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood for people around the world. Globally, aquaculture production must double by 2030 to keep pace with demand. These increases in demand for aquaculture products, food security considerations and job creation have generated an increased need for skilled workers.
As fish farming operations in the United States expand, lumpfish can be used as a pest control solution and therefore harvested. Basic data on a potential fishery is vital information for future managers, fishers and conservationists. Therefore, a team led by Elizabeth Fairchild of the University of New Hampshire will lead a project to describe and map the range of lumpfish in the Gulf of Maine. They will create an interactive online map to share their findings with fishing professionals, other researchers and the public to understand this dynamic little fish.
Diversification of the New England Sea Vegetable Aquaculture Industry – Phase II: Line Seeding Technology and Growth Trials for Longline Nori Production
Seaweed aquaculture has exploded in the Gulf of Maine over the past decade, with more than 140 kelp farms operating along the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. However, most of these farms depend on a single species – sugar kelp. Chris Neefus of the UNH Department of Biological Sciences Develops the Next Sea Vegetable for the Gulf of Maine – Wildemania amplissima, a local species of nori – the seaweed used in sushi and produced in a multi-billion dollar industry in Asia. This species grows to a similar size and under similar conditions as sugar kelp, but in spring and early summer instead of the winter sugar kelp season, diversifying farm operations without requiring big changes in practices or gear. Neefus will determine the best way to sow and grow nori. The project will share its findings with Gulf of Maine aquaculture operations in partnership with the New Hampshire and Maine Sea Grant Outreach and Outreach teams to help a growing industry become more resilient and profitable.
Promoting the sustainability of New Hampshire oyster farming by improving pathogenic vibrio management tools and contingencies
Although bacterial infections Vibrio parahaemolyticus increased in the Northeast, New Hampshire and Maine avoided any vibrio-related disease. This could be due to New Hampshire’s revolutionary policy preventing the importation of oyster spat from areas affected by a virulent strain of vibrio introduced from the Pacific, ST36. However, we do not know exactly how risky it is to import seed from these regions, and farmers could benefit from diversifying seed sources.
Therefore, Cheryl Whistler – professor of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences at the University of New Hampshire – will study the real risk of vibrio contamination through seed transport, explore mitigation measures like salt relay and resistance of the microbiome, and will improve the detection of harmful Vibrio strains. Whistler’s work will help New Hampshire aquaculture continue to grow, keep its products healthy, and inform future policy protecting New Hampshire waters from Vibrio pathogens.