A field trip to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is part of the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition (NACE), a three-day event bringing together those involved in Gulf of Maine aquaculture to find ways to move the industry forward. About twenty aquaculture leaders will tour the Bigelow Laboratory facility with Dr. Michael Lomas, director of the National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota, and Dr. Peter Countway, associate director for Algae and Protozoa.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get all of us involved in aquaculture sharing our experiences and what we know in order to improve yields, enhance growth efficiency, and protect the safety of this farmed food resource, “ says Lomas.  “Here at Bigelow Laboratory, for example, we can provide algal strains to help spur aquaculture growth, have analytical equipment that can assess the nutritional content of farmed seafood – from how much fat it contains to whether it contains metals not suitable for consumption—and can conduct experiments to help define optimal growth conditions. “ 

The tour is only one of many ways that Bigelow Laboratory scientists will be participating in the NACE Conference.  Bigelow Laboratory Senior Research Scientist Nichole N. Price, who is investigating how macroalgae might be used to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification in localized areas, including aquaculture farms, will be presenting on new ways to improve aquaculture productivity at the Conference.  Postdoctoral researcher Meredith White is part of a panel on ocean acidification in the Gulf of Maine and its impacts on the aquaculture industry.

Several hundred participants are expected at the NACE meeting at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, January 14-16, hosted by the Northeastern Aquaculture Association, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Alliance, and the Atlanta Canada Fish Farm Association. Adds Lomas, “Meetings such as these that meld science and industry are increasingly important as we need to work together to address the challenges posed by the ever-changing marine environment.”

The NCMA houses the largest and most diverse repository of living marine microalgae in the world. The collection also consists of 159 strains of marine macroalage collected from the Antarctic Peninsula to the coast of Norway. The NCMA provides starter cultures to those working to develop new sources for food, animal feed, fertilizers, natural products, nutritional supplements, and pharmaceuticals.

Along with the NCMA, additional services for those involved in aquaculture are available at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.  Bigelow Analytical Services (BAS) offers a fee-for service analytical capability providing services for researchers, industry and state regulators. BAS comprises a suite of modern, high-tech analytical instruments in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities that can provide information on seawater nutrient composition along the coast of Maine and on the identity and quantity of key biochemical components of the nutritional and commercial value of macroalgae.  The J.J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry can assist in automating laborious processes associated with live culturing and sorting microscopic stages of marine macroalgae.  The Bigelow Seawater Suite provides continuous flowing seawater to a wide range of experimental units for pilot scale microalgal production, macroalgal growth trials, and related activities. Additionally, laboratory space for industrial collaboration is available for rent onsite.