Sea Grant Projects Provide $3.3M in Support of Seafood Industry Workforce Development Including Funding for NJSGC Apprenticeship in Shellfish Aquaculture Program (ASAP)

August 18th, 2023

NOAA Sea Grant is pleased to announce the selection of 10 projects through two competitions aimed at bolstering workforce development efforts in both the wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture sectors. 

The FY2023 Young Fishermen’s Career Development Projects competition was offered in direct response to the 2021 Young Fishermen’s Development Act and the FY2023 Aquaculture Workforce Development Support Projects competition was targeted to aquaculture. Both were open to all Sea Grant programs. For the AWF (spell out?) twelve proposals were received requesting $3.7M in federal funding. The seven selected projects will receive a total of $2.4M and will support aquaculture workforce projects in California, Connecticut, Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, Guam, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Washington. 

“Supporting the training and development of seafood professionals is a priority for Sea Grant and a key component of ensuring sustainable U.S. fisheries and aquaculture,” said Jonathan Pennock, Director of the national Sea Grant College Program. “We look forward to seeing the positive impacts the 10 selected projects will have across the country.”

NJSGC’s Apprenticeship in Shellfish Aquaculture Program (ASAP) students learning about oyster aquaculture at Cape May Salt Oyster Farm.

New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s Project, entitled “Expanding the New Jersey Apprenticeship in Shellfish Aquaculture Program (ASAP)” led by Diana Burich, Director of Education, seeks to introduce high school students to aquaculture as a viable career path. This project aims to foster a skilled workforce to support and meet the needs of New Jersey’s growing and vibrant aquaculture sector. 

Diana Burich comments “NJSGC is looking forward to the opportunity to work with students, shellfish farmers, aquaculture facilities as well as local and state agencies to not only introduce students to aquaculture but to also meet the needs of this growing industry. We appreciate the support of Sea Grant and NOAA, and are confident that we will inspire the next generation of aquaculturists  .”

This program will include activities that nurture the development of core aquaculture workforce skills through a week-long shellfish aquaculture “bootcamp,” providing opportunities for high school students to gain hands-on experience in the aquaculture field through placement on local shellfish farms for a paid eight-week apprenticeship, and supporting student apprentices with biweekly cohort meeting and networking opportunities.

Dr. Peter Rowe, NJSGC Executive Director said “NJSGC is excited that Diana Buich is able to improve and expand the ASAP pilot program. We know that the student apprentices will not only further their  knowledge and skills associated with shellfish aquaculture, but will gain important insights into their future careers in the industry.”