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Sea Grant Awards Funding to Aquarium’s Seafood For The Future Program

for New Ocean Farming Public Education and Outreach Program

Aquarium of the Pacific, USC Sea Grant, California Sea Grant, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Seafood Nutrition Partnership partner on new public program on aquaculture

The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific’s Seafood for the Future program, University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant, and partners have been awarded $147,737 as part of the 2017 Sea Grant Aquaculture Initiative. The Aquarium-led project will result in the development of a series of videos, a web-based interactive, and educational content as part of a multi-channel communications strategy to educate the public about environmentally responsible marine aquaculture, or farming in the sea.

The collaborative project includes partnerships with USC Sea Grant, California Sea Grant, NOAA Office of Aquaculture, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA National Ocean Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Seafood Nutrition Partnership. “We need to have food for two billion more people as the population grows over the next thirty years. Responsible marine aquaculture provides a promising opportunity to supplement well-managed, wild fisheries to provide a healthy source of food with fewer environmental impacts relative to other animal proteins,” said Kim Thompson, Seafood for the Future program manager.

This award is part of $9.3 million in grants awarded by Sea Grant to support thirty-two projects in aquaculture research, outreach, and technical assistance. The initiative aims to advance aquaculture research, address barriers to aquaculture, and expand aquaculture production. “Public-private partnerships play a vital role in advancing our nation’s sustainable domestic aquaculture and increasing food security,” said Jonathan Pennock, director of NOAA Sea Grant. “This effort will help to educate the public about America’s domestic aquaculture industry and demonstrate how aquaculture can contribute to a safe, sustainable, and stable seafood supply.”

The Aquarium will produce a series of five short videos to communicate the science of aquaculture production, humanize scientists and aquaculture farmers, and address environmental concerns and benefits of aquaculture production. The series aims to increase the public’s knowledge about the many types of aquaculture production, show how science is applied on the farms to support best practices, and familiarize audiences with how to cook sustainable seafood dishes.

The videos will feature experts and farmers from South Carolina Sea Grant, Maine Aquaculture Association, Hog Island Oyster Company, Blue Ocean Mariculture, Lady’s Island Oyster, The Nature Conservancy, and other organizations. Guest chefs include Barton Seaver, author of American Seafood: Heritage, Culture & Cookery from Sea to Shining Sea, and John Marshall, owner and executive chef, Old Bull Tavern in South Carolina.

An app-based interactive platform will also be developed and featured in the Seafood for the Future exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific, with the potential to reach 1.7 million visitors per year. USC Sea Grant will lead the development of educational materials, including teacher resource guides targeted for formal classroom and informal educators. The app platform, videos, and educational materials will also be available online for easy distribution. The video series and app platform will launch at the Aquarium during National Aquaculture Week in September 2018. Additional public promotional events and distribution will continue through October 2019 and beyond. “New educational materials will help students explore the scientific, cultural, and social context of sustainable seafood,” says Linda Chilton, education programs manager at USC Sea Grant. “By reaching students, we are building community awareness of healthy nutrition, sustainable aquaculture, and fisheries careers.”

More than half of the global seafood supply comes from farmed sources. Currently, America ranks fifteenth in the world for farmed seafood production (both freshwater and marine sources). About 90 percent of our seafood is imported, which has a higher likelihood of coming from poorly regulated and unsustainable farmed sources. The U.S. has great potential to expand marine aquaculture, in large part due to the fact that it has the largest exclusive economic zone in the world. According to a recent study, the U.S. could produce an amount of seafood equivalent to the total amount of seafood harvested from global wild fisheries in an area the size of Lake Michigan. The U.S. has the scientific knowledge and technological capacity to expand responsible marine aquaculture to support healthy ecosystems, people, and economies.

The Aquarium of the Pacific and its Seafood for the Future program have a strong history of bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds to develop education and outreach resources on ocean science and conservation topics. The Aquarium has played a leading role in educating the public about responsible seafood, with an emphasis on the need for responsible marine aquaculture. Its efforts include the development of exhibits, programs, and videos, some of which have received national and international recognition.

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