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USA - MSU Awarded $1 Million NOAA Grant to Shore up U.S. Aquaculture Industry

STARKVILLE, Miss—Mississippi State University scientists are receiving a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant College Program to establish national economic metrics for the U.S. aquaculture industry.

The project’s lead investigator Ganesh Karunakaran, a Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station assistant research professor, is guiding a team of nearly a dozen university researchers from eight institutions. The research will analyze the economic viability, impact and management measures of the U.S. aquaculture industry to help producers and stakeholders now and in the future. The grant, administered through the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, is one of 12 awarded across the country and part of a $4.7 million investment aimed to strengthen the economics of U.S. aquaculture.

“Our overall objective is to provide basic and comprehensive information about various sectors in U.S. aquaculture. Aquaculture is different from other agricultural industries such as beef cattle or row crops because it encompasses so many species. Production budgets are available for most commodities with the exception of aquaculture, and we’re hoping to change that,” said Karunakaran, who is based at MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center.

The team will develop comprehensive economic and business planning models for major U.S. aquaculture sectors including catfish; mollusks, such as oysters, mussels and clams; salmonids (salmon and trout); crustaceans; centrarchids including bass; recreational and ornamental fish, and other major offshore and inland aquaculture industries. They also will estimate the economic impact of U.S. aquaculture both before and after the economic effect of COVID-19. Researchers plan to create a farm-level price database for producers and researchers alike.

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