The role of Regional Aquaculture Centers in the U.S.

12 Midwest states, including Michigan, served by North Central Regional Aquaculture Center.

Recently hatched rainbow trout with egg sacs. Photo: Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

Recently hatched rainbow trout with egg sacs. Photo: Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

Aquaculture is the farming of the freshwaters and oceans to produce seafood products under controlled conditions. Aquaculture production contributes about $1.2 billion annually to the United States economy. Since about 90 percent of fishery products consumed in the U.S. are imported, Congress established five Regional Aquaculture Centers administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture to assist U.S. fish farmers. The five Regional Aquaculture Centers include the Southern, Northeastern, North Central, Western, and Center for Tropical and Subtropical.

Regional Aquaculture Centers are unique, as the challenges and opportunities that are specific to aquaculture in each region in the U.S are addressed for that specific geographic area. Aquaculture research that is funded by the Regional Aquaculture Centers is prioritized by the fish farmers themselves. As a result problems can be identified on a region-wide scale and interstate research and outreach projects can be implemented to solve these problems. Issues that affect U.S. aquaculture include economic viability, disease management and prevention, sustainable feeds, environmental responsibility, and reliable seed source for target species.  

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension play an important role with the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center by serving on the Extension Technical Committee and hosting a position as a Regional Aquaculture Extension Specialist. The North Central Regional Aquaculture Center operates out of Iowa State University and is an administrative unit that serves the twelve states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Michigan Sea Grant has been involved with a variety of aquaculture related projects including Salmonid Egg and Fingerling Purchases, Production, and Sales; Status and Needs of Salmonid Aquaculture in the North Central Region; Walleye Fingerling Culture in Undrainable Ponds; Production of Walleye as Potential Food Fish; and the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) Project.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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