The North Carolina Aquarium will receive funding over the next three years to build capacity to sustainably breed marine fish species and raise awareness of aquaculture through public engagement. The funding is part of her $750,000 grant awarded to her group of seven facilities by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
With this support, the Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores, and Roanoke Island Aquariums will expand their animal care teams and expand their breeding programs. In partnership with the Sea Grant of North Carolina, the aquarium engages aquarium visitors and their communities in these important initiatives.
Hap Fatzinger, director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, said: “This opportunity to devote more resources to the North Carolina Aquarium’s aquaculture program, especially to raise public awareness, is important to our mission to advance the assessment and conservation of the aquatic environment.”
Aquaculture is the breeding and rearing of fish, shellfish and other organisms. For commercially valuable species, pressure on wild populations can be alleviated. For public aquariums, aquaculture offers a sustainable way to provide habitat for animals. It also demonstrates a unique way to engage the public in choosing sustainable seafood.
“Being onshore, the North Carolina Aquarium offers a great opportunity to share this information not only with visitors, but with the local fishing community,” said Mayron White, North Carolina Aquarium Division Director. “This kind of project allows us to contribute to sustainability programs that develop beyond our walls.”
Sharing the grant are the New England Aquarium (NEAq), Roger Williams University (RWU), the Aquarium of the Pacific, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the National Aquarium, and the University of Massachusetts Boston. NEAq and RWU have taken a leading role in helping aquariums increase the sustainability of their collections. These goals can be achieved through aquaculture and ethical wild fishing. Partners share reproductive methods with other institutions working on similar programs. Interactive storytelling allows the public to learn more about the value of aquaculture.
The goal of this partnership is to work with the Aquarium and Zoo Association (AZA) to create a network of public aquariums working together to advance aquaculture strategies. Across the agency, 14 marine fish species will be part of this sustainable breeding program.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read more local stories here.