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EPSCoR Distinguished Lecture: Emerging Aquaculture Trends in the Gulf of Maine

About the series

Synopsis: While aquaculture is often described as one of the fastest growing food production systems in the world, progress is often non-linear and complex when we focus on any particular location. This type of place-based perspective on aquaculture can be helpful in understanding other complex social-ecological-economic systems. Maine leads the country in marine aquaculture production by value but only engages a small proportion of its 5,600 km of tidal shoreline in this activity. Our group works with the seaweed, shellfish, and finfish industries in the state to create a more sustainable industry since each production system requires different tools. For example, seaweed processing recently passed the million-pound threshold in Maine for the first time due to interactions between the seaweed industry and the American lobster fleet. One emerging shellfish aquaculture trend with promise is aquacultured sea scallops. Growers in Maine put the first aquacultured sea scallop on the market in 2019 but any new industry requires significant learning by doing and technology transfer, in this case with Japan. Finally, our group is working closely with Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, such as Whole Oceans, Kingfish Maine and Nordic AquaFarms to allow for sustainable use of intake water and a full characterization of the impact on receiving waters. A theme of our work is to take established oceanographic tools such as remote sensing satellite systems and oceanographic buoys to better characterize aquaculture environment interactions. For example, by combining multiple observing platforms, we are identifying new areas for shellfish aquaculture expansion, characterizing important feedbacks that alter carrying capacity, and incorporating climate related factors into future aquaculture growing area projections. In short, I will do my best to present a Maine travelogue through an aquaculture lens.

About the Speaker: Dr. Damian C Brady is the Agatha B. Darling Professor of Oceanography at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center and was hired during NSF's largest investment in aquaculture science to date: EPSCOR's Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET). Dr. Brady received his PhD from the University of Delaware in 2008 studying interactions between juvenile estuary-dependent fishes and hypoxia. When he arrived in Maine, he discovered that many of the water quality problems that affect the US East Coast were not present in Maine. Therefore, he shifted focus to include aquaculture, offshore wind, and fisheries through the same lens as his hypoxia work. Specifically, how can we link oceanographic conditions to specific outcomes for marine organisms. Dr. Brady's group applies oceanographic tools to applied marine systems as diverse as floating offshore wind, the American lobster fishery and North Atlantic right whale interactions, and recirculating aquaculture systems.

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