A Partnership for Innovative Use of Emerging Species in Aquaculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,496.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: University of Rhode Island
Region: Northeast
State: Rhode Island
Project Leader:
Dr. Coleen Suckling
University of Rhode Island


  • Animals: other


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Emerging aquaculture species such as Atlantic sea scallops and green sea urchins (GSU) have shown increasing adoption and interest from growers within Maine. These species have not been previously considered for in situ co-production but together offer solutions to challenge areas within their separate production methods. Scallop grow-out suffers from heavy biofouling, an issue experienced by the broader shellfish industry, which can negatively affect growth rates and market value. GSUs are omnivorous but are typically fed kelp, their preferred diet but lacking sufficient protein to facilitate fast growth. GSU seed produced in the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR) hatchery can be readily integrated into scallop nets, and graze upon the biofouling organisms to accelerate growth to market size, also benefiting scallop growth and value. Northeastern interest is increasing to trial this integration technology with a low environmental footprint to maximize profit. This project partners farmers across Maine with GSU producers, researchers, and extension staff across the Northeast to integrate GSU seed with shellfish such as scallops and measure how much biofouling can be reduced, and determine whether growth to market of both species can be enhanced. These trials will also identify the best combination of species sizes and densities to integrate for maximum performance. There will be strong knowledge exchange and collaboration across this multidisciplinary team and extensive outreach to the broader and diverse shellfish industry who may be interested in adopting these innovative approaches towards reducing biofouling and enhancing profit.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project seeks to sustain the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) and Green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) industries in Maine through enhancing these emerging aquaculture sectors. 

    To achieve this, the following objectives will determine whether:

    1) Integrating Green sea urchin seed with Atlantic Sea Scallop seed during grow out can reduce biofouling on nets and scallop shells. We expect biofouling on scallop nets and shells to be reduced by up to 50% and 30-100% respectively.

    2) This integration can enhance growth rates and the market value of both species by creating an additional $7kg-1 in scallops and $22kg-1 for sea urchins produced.


    We will compare levels of biofouling in lantern nets that contain only scallops (control) or contain scallops and green sea urchin seed, using differing combinations of animal sizes and stocking densities to determine the best combinations. Treatment groups will be independently replicated in each farm at two scallop farms. The same approach will also be incorporated into an oyster farm to build on previous evidence for biofouling control needed for shellfish grower confidence. This work will be conducted through strong knowledge exchange and outreach efforts to the broad and diverse network of shellfish growers across the Northeast.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.