The University of Maine, in partnership with the University of New England and other institutions in Maine, has received a five-year, $20 million National Science Foundation grant to establish a research network in Maine focused on sustainable ecological aquaculture and how it might interact with coastal communities and ecosystems.
Maine's partnership is one of six grant recipients through NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Resource, a federal program directed at states that have historically received less federal research and development funding. The program provides states with "financial support to develop partnerships between their higher education institutions, industry, government, and others in order to effect lasting improvements in its research and development infrastructure, capacity, and national academic competitiveness," according to a press release announcing the award.
The research partners will initially include UMaine, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, University of Maine at Machias, Bowdoin College, Maine Maritime Academy, St. Joseph's College, Southern Maine Community College, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the Cobscook Community Learning Center. Dozens of other partners and stakeholder groups are expected to collaborate on the project's research, education, workforce development and economic development activities.
The Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network partners will use the state's 3,500-mile coastline as a living laboratory to study physical oceanography, biophysical, biogeochemical, socioeconomic and policy interactions that have local, bioregional, national and global implications.
"This research project will use various types of science to understand how aquaculture fits in our multi-use working waterfront, while building partnerships and training students, so that we can use similar approaches to other coastal resource management issues in the future," said Paul Anderson, director of SEANET at the University of Maine.
"This award is great news for the university, its partners, and indeed, the entire state of Maine," Sen. Angus King said. "This important funding will help establish a new and innovative network of experts who will work together to advance our understanding of Maine's working waterfronts, which are a vital part of our state's economy. It will also benefit countless students who will gain valuable research and field experience, making this a win for everyone involved. I look forward to seeing the good work it will support."