There is an urgent need for sustainable seafood systems that can help feed communities around the world as they adapt to our changing climate.”
—Diane Foster, director, UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering
FILE PHOTO/REBECCA IRELAN
Seafood Solutions
$5 million gift will transform UNH’s work on sustainable seafood as a global food source
W

hen most of us think seafood, what usually comes to mind is a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant. But when UNH thinks seafood, it thinks of solutions to some of the biggest problems plaguing the planet: global food insecurity, warming oceans and growing populations.

Now, thanks to a $5 million gift, the University of New Hampshire will dive deeper into the study of sustainable seafood and aquaculture on that global scale. The gift, made through the Emily Landecker Foundation, will create a Sustainable Seafood Laboratory and transform UNH’s ability to answer significant questions in the areas of natural fisheries and aquaculture systems. At UNH’s first-of-its-kind open ocean test site (just south of Appledore Island, home to the Shoals Marine Lab), the gift will provide the critical instrumentation needed to pilot next generation aquaculture systems and understand broader changes in the surrounding natural ecosystem.

The gift was inspired by UNH’s proven excellence in marine sciences and ocean engineering. Landecker Foundation representatives consider the university uniquely positioned to develop one of the nation’s top sustainable seafood systems programs with its tremendous research and academic strengths in oceanography, ocean engineering and marine biology. “Marine bioresources have the promise to play a key role in food production worldwide, and we feel fortunate to be able to help the university begin this endeavor by funding a sustainable seafood lab.”

FILE PHOTO/REBECCA IRELAN
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, global fisheries provide 6.7 percent of all protein consumed by humans — more, in developing coastal regions where the threats of climate change are significant. The investment in marine bioresources is also an investment in efforts to address climate change: According to recent research from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, ocean-based proteins produce less greenhouse gas than land-based animal proteins do.

Because it is warming faster than 99 percent of the ocean, the Gulf of Maine provides a natural study area for examining shifts in bioresources and for training the next generation of scientists and engineers. Lobstering, which makes up roughly 50 percent of the Gulf of Maine’s billion-dollar fishing industry, is one example of a global shellfish industry threatened by ocean acidification and warming temperatures. UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering Director Diane Foster says UNH’s strength in addressing these problems lies in the ability of its scientists and engineers to collaborate across the seascape on the gamut of compelling questions. This new lab will make much of that work possible.

Marine bioresources have the promise to play a key role in food production worldwide.”
—The Emily Landecker Foundation
FILE PHOTO/SCOTT RIPLEY
The Landecker Foundation gift will fund an upfitting of the existing field laboratory, allowing the UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering faculty to invest in equipment and providing startup funds for key technical staff and faculty.

“We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing and generous support of the Emily Landecker Foundation,” Foster says. “There is an urgent need for sustainable seafood systems that can help feed communities around the world as they adapt to our changing climate. This gift will allow us to advance research involving the interplay of natural and farmed seafood systems and identify solutions for low environmental impact aquaculture systems.”

— Erika Mantz