The University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Institute has gained a worldwide reputation for its help in nurturing the state's growing industry surrounding aquaculture - the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, shellfish and even plants.
The University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) has gained a worldwide reputation for its help in nurturing the state’s growing industry surrounding aquaculture – the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, shellfish and even plants.
This industry has been active for some time, but has only recently emerged as a solution to world food demand. From its three campus locations, ARI is conducting groundbreaking research in a variety of aquaculture-related disciplines.
As a result, businesses seeking aquaculture solutions in areas ranging from food processing to pharmaceuticals to cosmetics are benefiting from ARI’s research. ARI provides aquaculture business incubators for aspiring entrepreneurs, and is researching possible cures for sea-life diseases that may affect salmon and shellfish.
The institute studies plant life like seaweed, which can help treat wastewater, and has discovered how fish waste can be used as fertilizer. ARI has introduced new fish species, such as abalone, to the east coast for possible commercial aquaculture purposes.
Jake Ward, University of Maine vice president for innovation and economic development, says ARI works with businesses in a variety of ways. Often companies partner with ARI in studies to determine commercial applications, or may license ARI’s research to use in its business. ARI has also received research grants for aquaculture studies from government agencies including the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Many University of Maine graduates go on to start their own aquaculture or aquatic-related businesses, ranging from fish farms to veterinary clinics to seaweed food manufacturing for supermarkets.
“We have helped develop a statewide aquaculture network that is addressing a host of issues,” says Ian Bricknell, director of the Aquaculture Research Institute and professor of aquaculture biology at the university. “We are proud of the businesses and jobs that have been created as part of the work we are doing.”