Aquaculture Funding Opportunities and Grants


Man looks at algal culturing cylinders

Algal culturing techniques. 

Funding may address a variety of issues such as environmental monitoring, recirculating aquaculture systems, shellfish farming; alternative feeds for aquaculture, new species research, and offshore aquaculture. The programs below outline NOAA-managed funding opportunities for aquaculture and funding opportunities available through other agencies or venues. To learn more about past grant funding projects view the updated NOAA Aquaculture Research Story Map

NOAA Competitive Grants Programs for Aquaculture

  • Sea Grant Marine Aquaculture Grant Program - Informally referred to as the "National Marine Aquaculture Initiative (NMAI)," this national competitive grant program encourages demonstration projects and research targeted to the development of sustainable marine aquaculture in the United States. The competition is designed to foster dynamic partnerships that channel resources toward the development of sustainable aquaculture technologies.  Projects often involve partnerships among commercial companies, research institutions, universities, state governments, and coastal communities. The competition also supports the work of state Sea Grant extension programs.


  • NOAA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program - Investment in aquaculture research and development is supported by NOAA's SBIR program, which encourages small businesses to leverage federal funds to invest in innovative technologies and next-generation products and processes that may lead to commercialization


  • Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program - The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program includes aquaculture as a priority to fund projects that encourage the development of environmentally- and economically-sound aquaculture as well as relieve fishing pressure and improve market availability of U.S. seafood products. 


  • Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN) Program - MARFIN promotes programs that seek to optimize economic and social benefits from marine fishery resources through cooperative efforts that evoke the best research and management talents within NOAA's Southeast Region.  The intent is to focus projects funded by MARFIN into cooperative efforts that provide clear answers for fishery needs covered by the NMFS Strategic Plan.  Funding priorities for MARFIN are formulated from recommendations received from non-federal scientific and technical experts and from NOAA Fisheries Service research and operations officials. 


  • Regional Aquaculture Pilot Projects - NOAA Fisheries is supporting aquaculture pilot projects through the nation’s Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions. These competitive grants will be managed through the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commissions. Through these pilot projects, emphasis is being placed on promising but less commercially developed technologies for finfish, shellfish, seaweed, and other relative newcomers to the domestic aquaculture industry. The grants emphasize the development and deployment of economically and environmentally sustainable aquatic farming techniques and business practices.



NOAA Financial Assistance Programs

  • NOAA Fisheries Finance Program - The Fisheries Finance Program provides long-term financing (up to 25 years) in the form of direct loans for up to 80 percent of the cost of construction, reconstruction, expansion, and purchase of aquaculture facilities.  The program also may refinance existing loans.  There are no early repayment penalties and the fees for a new loan are 0.5 percent. The program is authorized under the Merchant Marine Act (46 U.S.C. 53701 et seq), and may lend up to $59 million in 2012.  Current regulations for the FFP can be found in the Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 241. Aquaculture is considered a high priority in this program.

Other Funding Opportunities

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program - The SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in research in scientific and engineering areas (including aquaculture) that has the potential for commercialization.  Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from commercialization. In addition to NOAA, several federal agencies including USDA-NIFA, NIST, and NSF allocate research and development money to SBIR. Information on currently open solicitations, eligibility, and the application process can be found on the SBIR homepage. 


For information about all federal funding opportunities