Sea Grant

The Art of Hydroponics


This week’s featured video is The Art of Hydroponics: Growing Fish and Fresh Vegetables. Meet Rob Torcellini of Bigelow Brook Farms who grows a variety of greens, herbs and other vegetables and ornamental carp. Enjoy learning how these are grown in a small community in northeastern Connecticut.

Tessa Getchis, one of our Connecticut Sea Grant Extension educators hosts the video.

New Oyster Aquaculture Video in the CT Aquaculture Video Series

Man wearing blue hat talking in front of water. Label that says Steve Plant This week’s video is Oyster aquaculture – A hybrid approach using gear and bottom culture and features Steve Plant of Connecticut Cultured Oysters in Noank. Visit our YouTube Playlist which contains a variety of videos showcasing the state’s aquaculture industry. We’ll add more every week or so!

You can also find links to the video and YouTube Playlist here: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=11399

 

This project is Funded by National Sea Grant, Connecticut Sea Grant, UConn Extension, and the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

10 CT, NY schools chosen for launch of LIS Schools network

Class of middle schoolers and their teacher looking out at the oceanElementary, middle and high school students, teachers and the communities of 10 public schools in urban and suburban areas will comprise the new Long Island Sound Schools network, committing to the protection of local watersheds, the Sound and our one global ocean.

With funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study and facilitated by Connecticut Sea Grant and Mercy University, the program supports schools that implement a school or community-based project and create a plan to increase ocean literacy by engaging students, families and the public.

All the schools are located within the Long Island Sound watershed, from inland areas with waterways that flow into the estuary to shoreline communities. Program funding will provide stipends for lead teachers at each school and up to $5,000 per school to implement projects. The schools will also have access to a network of educators, connections with scientists, community organizations and stewardship sites, and possible travel funds for conference presentations.

Visit the Sea Grant website for the full article.

CT Sea Grant among recipients nationwide of NOAA resilience funds

woman standing in front of class room teaching. With a projector screen next to herThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program this week announced funding awards to Sea Grant programs across the country for new and ongoing projects enhancing community resilience, including support for two programs run by Connecticut Sea Grant: Climate Adaption Academy and UConn Climate Corps.

At CT Sea Grant, about $185,000 in federal funding will support and expand the reach of current projects. These projects are effective platforms for advancing information exchange and understanding of climate change impacts and nature-based approaches to resilience among municipal and land-use professionals and undergraduate students that in turn advance community resilience in CT cities and towns.

For the full article check out: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2024/01/12/ctsg-among-recipients-nationwide-of-noaa-resilience-funds/

Did You Know: Cleaning New Haven Coastal Area

Summer may be over, but cleaning our coastal areas can be a yearlong project. On August 12 of 2023, volunteers spent two hours collecting over 110 pounds of trash in the Long Wharf Drive and the Long Wharf Nature Preserve in New Haven. the cleanup kicking off the 2023 #DontTrashLISound campaign led by Connecticut Sea Grant and the 2023 Connecticut Cleanup season led by Save the Sound. The two organizations partnered on the cleanup, which netted 12 bags with more than 110 pounds of trash. Two other organizations, Connecticut Clean Communities and Garbo Grabber, a company that makes trash pickup equipment, cleaned an adjoining section of Long Wharf Drive that morning, filling nine bags. Proving that coastal clean ups are much needed.
Woman walking on the New Haven coast with her bucket of trash
One of the 17 volunteers at the Aug. 12 cleanup heads into the Long Wharf Nature Preserve to pick up trash.

The cleanup launched the seventh annual #DontTrashLISound campaign of cleanups, social media posts and giveaways of popular “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers for reusable water bottles and travel mugs by Connecticut Sea Grant. The 2023 theme, “Love the coast—pitch the plastic” calls attention to the prevalence of plastic trash in the environment and encourages people to reduce single-use plastics by choosing reusable items instead, and making sure trash is disposed of properly.

The campaign continued on through International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 16. It is one of several actions being taken by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs and their partners to implement the Long Island Sound Marine Debris Action Plan since its completion in 2022.

Remember keeping the outdoors clean if everyone’s responsibility. If you are going on a walk and see trash, pick it up. We can all help throughout the year. Let’s keep the coast and other parts of Connecticut clean!

 

 

Federal funds will enhance aquaculture education, kelp farming

Michael Gilman, CTSG aquaculture extension assistant, shows an oyster dredge to students in the "Foundations of Shellfish Farming" class at UConn Avery Point this spring.
Michael Gilman, CTSG and UConn Extension aquaculture extension assistant, shows an oyster dredge to students in the “Foundations of Shellfish Farming” class at UConn Avery Point this spring. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

Two federal grants totaling almost $600,000 will help launch two new initiatives considered crucial to the long-term viability of the state’s aquaculture industry.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program will provide a $398,896 grant to Connecticut Sea Grant for a two-year project to assess workforce development needs. The grant was one of 10 projects nationwide announced Aug. 15 by National Sea Grant that together will receive a total of $3.3 million for seafood industry workforce support. Work is underway on the project.

A second grant of $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service will fund the purchase and outfitting of a trailer to be used as a mobile lab for solving production-related challenges of the emerging kelp aquaculture industry. The trailer will also be used to provide training to seaweed farmers and other interested sectors.

“I am grateful that our staff remains in close contact with the aquaculture industry to understand and address ongoing challenges and have the academic skills to secure funding from such competitive programs,” said Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant.

Tessa Getchis, CT Sea Grant aquaculture extension specialist and UConn Extension senior extension educator, said the funding will be used to ensure the state has a workforce with the right skills and training for its current and future aquaculture sector.

“We want to align what’s being taught with the needs of industry, and fill in the gaps,” Getchis said. “We’re going to look at the whole spectrum, from high schools, trade schools, to community colleges and universities, as well as training offered through UConn Extension, non-profit organizations and tribal nations.”

Multiple partners are involved in the project, including the state agriculture and education departments, representatives of traditional and agricultural science and technology high schools, as well as Southern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut and Manchester Community College. Pisces Learning Innovations, a private economic and development consultancy firm, will be hired to conduct an analysis including interviews and surveys of educators and industry members that would identify the specific skills and subject matter areas that should be taught.

The information generated through the project would be used to guide a multi-pronged approach to establishing a cohesive educational foundation for aquaculture in Connecticut, where students can obtain the skills they need for jobs at all levels in shellfish, aquaponics, kelp, finfish and ornamentals aquaculture, including in related science, policy, business and management fields.

Alysa Mullen, fish lab director and aquaculture educator of the Sound School in New Haven, noted that data show that the majority of students who graduate from high school aquaculture programs leave the state for secondary education and do not return.

“There are several high schools like the Sound School in Connecticut teaching aquaculture in a hands-on setting, but no post-secondary education programs,” she said. “We are losing the students to states like Rhode Island and Maine that have these opportunities for students after graduation.”

Seeded string is wound off a spool onto a line that will be suspended below the sea surface to grow kelp
Seeded string is wound off a spool onto a line that will be suspended below the sea surface to grow kelp. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

Anoushka Concepcion, CT Sea Grant and UConn Extension associate extension Educator, is leading the project to create a mobile seaweed lab, in partnership with a Maine-based company, Spartan Sea Farms, and the state Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture. The grant, she said, will fund the purchase and outfitting of an 8-by-8-by-14-foot trailer into a lab that could travel to locations in Connecticut, New York and possibly Rhode Island to provide training to seaweed farmers. The funds will also support the salary of a technician to run the facility.

Initially, she said, the lab will be used to investigate methods seaweed farmers could use to produce the seeded string needed to start a kelp crop. CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise, a professor in the UConn Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, will oversee the investigations. Farmers in Southern New England have been struggling to obtain seeded string in recent years due to unreliable supply, Concepcion noted. By teaching farmers how to produce their own seeded string from the reproductive tissue of kelp grown on their own underwater lines, reliance on wild sources will be reduced and harvest volume would increase.

“We want to use the lab for many different production-related challenges,” she said. “But the first project will be to address the lack of access to kelp seed in Long Island Sound.”

The grant funds will also pay for the creation of a publicly accessible manual and video about kelp nursery set-up and operations for small-scale farms.

Approximately four farms have been consistently growing kelp over the last seven years in Long Island Sound, a number that would likely be much higher if seeded string were readily available, she said. Both active farmers and those who would like to start farms have repeatedly asked for help solving the seeded string deficiency.

“This mobile seaweed lab is a significant step because it will provide the infrastructure where the emerging needs of various sectors can be immediately addressed through applied research and training opportunities,” Concepcion said.

CT Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom said the two projects demonstrate how Sea Grant directly responds to identified needs.

“We look at who is being affected, who needs to be at the table in order to help solve the problem, and what resources are required,” Balcom said.  “By securing those resources and facilitating that involvement, we help ensure that collective action leads to shared benefits.”

More information: Judy Benson, CT Sea Grant communications coordinator: judy.benson@uconn.edu; (860) 287-6426

Wrack Lines explores the many facets of marine education

boat in the background with 2 men in hats holding a netThe new issue of Wrack Lines is now posted on the sea grant website! Learn about the inspiring journey of a mini sailboat, lessons from beaches and school aquariums and the unique geology of the Connecticut shoreline in their newest issue. More good reading can be found in articles about how the ocean literacy campaign and ocean identity research are working to expand marine science education.

Check it out at https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=11239

 

‘Seaweed Food Safety’ report examines federal, state regulations

seaweed growing on a line, being pulled out of the waterThe National Sea Grant Law Center has announced the release of a new seaweed food safety publication produced in partnership with New York Sea Grant and Connecticut Sea Grant as part of the National Seaweed Hub.

“Seaweed Food Safety: Comparing Compliance with Preventive Controls for Human Food with Seafood HACCP” was developed to help the emerging seaweed industry understand the prevailing regulatory requirements surrounding the production of seaweeds as foods. There are currently two regulations that are being used to regulate seaweeds at either the federal or state level, the Food Safety and Modernization Act’s Preventive Controls for Human Foods regulation, which includes current Good Manufacturing Practices, and the Seafood HACCP regulation. This guide will help readers understand the similarities and differences between the two regulations to be more informed and determine how their operations will be regulated federally.

The guide was drafted by a core team including Dr. Michael Ciaramella of New York Sea Grant, Anoushka Concepcion of Connecticut Sea Grant, and Catherine Janasie and Stephanie Otts of the National Sea Grant Law Center. Members of the National Seaweed Hub’s Regulations Work Group and the Seaweed Food Safety Training Workgroup (coordinated by New York Sea Grant), which include agencies, academics, industry, and non-profits, assisted with revisions and edits.

This report is a product of the National Seaweed Hub’s Regulations Work Group. It is one of 4 responsive resources developed to address an immediate need identified by the national seaweed aquaculture stakeholders.

Guide showcases geology, ecology, wildlife of CT shoreline

Front Cover of the guide, with a CT Sandy Shores photoConnecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut College Arboretum are pleased to announce the publication of Connecticut’s Sandy Shores: An Introduction to the Geology, Plants and Animals, a 130-page guidebook with dozens of color photos and illustrations along with explanatory text about the ecology, geology, common species and why Connecticut’s sandy beaches differ from many others along the Atlantic seaboard.

Printed on water resistant paper, the book is intended as an educational companion for visits to the shoreline by anyone interested in learning about the coastal environment, including formal and informal educators, birders, artists, students and the general public.

“Our hope in developing this guide is that people can take this guide to the beach in any season and appreciate and understand this highly dynamic system, especially in light of the changing climate and its impacts on Connecticut’s shoreline,” said Juliana Barrett, CT Sea Grant coastal habitat specialist, UConn extension educator and lead author.

For more information about the guide, and how to order, visit the website.