Square shaped oyster beds in the mud abutting a larger, open bod of water.
Robers Lab
Oyster farms near Olympia, Washington.

Aquaculture has been a mainstay of Washington’s economy since the state’s founding, and there is still potential for more growth. Three federal grants announced this week will provide total funding of $1.1 million to Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, for research that will sustainably further shellfish and finfish aquaculture in the state.

The grants were awarded through two competitions designed to identify projects that will lead to the responsible development of the domestic shellfish, finfish and seaweed aquaculture industries. NOAA received 126 proposals requesting nearly $58 million in federal funds. For each of the 32 accepted proposals, every two federal dollars granted is matched by non-federal funds, bringing the total investment in the projects to $13.9 million.

“Washington shellfish farmers have led the nation in production of high-quality cultured products for decades,” said Penny Dalton, director of Washington Sea Grant. “Two of the projects will focus on environmental challenges the industry faces. The third will pilot commercial operations to grow sablefish.”

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