Growing the Future of Seafood

Seafood consumption is at an all time high around the world, but wild fisheries are often unable keep pace with increased demand. In response, many nations are turning toward aquaculture, the cultivation of fish and shellfish for seafood. This industry is thriving across North Carolina, and Sea Grant has played a critical role in the research and development of operations in the coastal region.


Hybrid Striped Bass

hsbaquaculture2Sea Grant was a leader in developing production methods and commercial operations for hybrid striped bass — a cross between a striped bass and a white bass. More than 20 years ago, we helped demonstrate that hybrid striped bass (HSB) are a viable aquaculture species and the now generates millions for the coastal economy.

As river and inland coastal towns continue to grow, Sea Grant researchers are helping communities with HSB operations better understand the industry. In Effluents from Hybrid Striped Bass Ponds, North Carolina State University researcher Harry Daniels reviews HSB farming in the state and explains why water from HSB ponds is periodically released. Daniels and other Sea Grant scientists are conducting ongoing research about how these releases influence nearby creeks and streams. Read about their work in Coastwatch.


flounder2Sea Grant researchers are pioneering research into farming flounder, a species that is in high demand and is high-value on the world market.  For the last decade, our Core Research and Fishery Resource Grant (FRG) dollars have funded research into a variety of production methods for southern flounder.

Thanks to Sea Grant efforts, a commercial operation in Duplin County is successfully producing and selling crops of young Southern flounder, also known as “fingerlings.”  Researchers are now exploring production methods to farm this species to full size.

To learn more about producing Southern Flounder fingerlings, order Sea Grant’s publication, A Practical Hatchery Manual: Production of Flounder Fingerlings, provides a comprehensive, hands-on reference to the procedures used to produce this fish. The publication also contains step-by-step descriptions, color photos and understandable graphs go from egg production to weaning of fingerlings.

Black Sea Bass

seabassBlack sea bass are newcomers to the aquaculture scene, and Sea Grant is involved with all aspects of experimental research, from spawning to larval culture to raising the fish to full size. Black sea bass are a premium value finfish species ideal for sushi, sashimi or dishes that require a whole fish for steaming, cheap aciphex, poaching or deep-frying. They command high prices in the growing niche markets of the Northeast, but wild stock is being overfished in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, according to NOAA Fisheries.

Although there are no commercial operations producing this species in North Carolina yet, researchers are carefully examining the effects of diet, tank systems and various nursery methods for raising juveniles.

Learn more about the black sea bass projects being conducted by Sea Grant researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.


oysterfarmingShellfish, such as oysters and clams, are an important part of estuarine ecosystems and North Carolina’s coastal economy. Sea Grant’s research and outreach efforts have focused on both shellfish production and limiting disease among stocks.

For citizens interested in growing shellfish gardens in their backyards, Sea Grant offers an instructional “Blueprint” publication called, Shellfish 4 Us: Backyard Shellfish Gardening. For additional resources on culturing oysters in your backyard, visit the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries’ Under the Dock Oyster Culture Program.

For those interested in farming oysters, one of the state’s most popular and important shellfish, Sea Grant produced Culturing Oysters in North Carolina, a digital “how-to” manual that draws on years of scientific research and grower experience.  View the manual introduction, or watch a video excerpt and learn the difference of cultured versus wild shellfish products.  Order this product. Cost: $5.

Blue Crabs

crab_paulrose105Blue crabs are North Carolina’s most economically important species, and Sea Grant has helped advance technology in the crab shedding industry during the last decade.  Learn more about blue crab aquaculture from NAME NAME in a clip from Sea Grant’s Beautiful Blue Crab DVD. Order this product. Cost: $5.

Some free downloads for crab shedders include:

Photos: Scott Taylor, NCSG Stock, Paul Rose