Fisheries & Aquaculture

Virginia Sea Grant aims to maintain sustainable and thriving commercial and recreational fisheries, and aquaculture production in Virginia through cutting edge research and "fins in the water" extension work. Extension staff specialize in fields as diverse as fishing gear design, climate change mitigation, K through 12th grade education, sea level rise and recurrent flooding, recreational fisheries, finfish and shellfish aquaculture.

Extension projects include:

Aquaculture Program at Virginia Tech's Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (VSAREC)
Seafood Products & Shellfish

Virginia Sea Grant supports safe and sustainable seafood processing and product development through applied research and extension work. Extension staff at VIMS and Virginia Tech work with the seafood industry to provide marketing and product development assistance, seafood safety information and worker safety training, and equipment calibration and quality assurance.

Extension projects at VIMS include:

Extension projects at Virginia Tech's Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (VSAREC) include:

Seafood Safety (staff members Michael Schwarz and Abigail Villalba)

Product and Market Development (staff members Jonathan van Senten and Carole R. Engle)

Seafood Processing (staff members Bob Lane, Reza Ovissipour, and Setareh Shiroodi).

Coastal Communities

Virginia Sea Grant works to enhance the sustainability and viability of coastal communities through economic and social science research as well as extension activities. The coastal community development program within VIMS Marine Advisory services department conducts economic analyses and supports coastal industries such as marinas, boating, seafood, and tourism. We have also partnered with Old Dominion University, and William & Mary Law School on projects that address climate change adaptation.

Extension projects include:

Fisheries Resource Grant Program
Healthy Ecosystems

The Chesapeake Bay is a productive and unique ecosystem, home to complex networks of animals, plants, and other organisms that have lived here for millennia. Woven into this tapestry are human communities, some of which can trace back their histories hundreds of years.

Intricate interactions among species, their environments, and people determine the long-term success of this estuary. But in recent decades, the ecosystem has deteriorated, and much of the decline is associated with human activities and population growth.

Science to Understand the Ecosystem

VASG forms partnerships that support scientific research to advance knowledge to stakeholders to help conserve the Bay’s sensitive ecosystem, and preserve sustainable use by Commonwealth communities. We fund research about a variety of ecosystem dynamics relevant to preserving and restoring the Bay:

  • Pollution and water quality: Land development, farming, sewage treatment, and other human activities deliver excess nutrients to the Bay. Nitrogen and phosphorus have fouled the water and harmed plants and animals. Read more about …
  • Stressed fisheries: Because of fishing pressure, oyster diseases, and degraded water quality, the Bay’s native population of oysters has been devastated, and the sustainability of other commercial species remains a concern. Discover more about the Bay’s iconic commercial species …
  • Rising sea level and climate change: Warming, rising waters in the Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, along with recurrent flooding associated with climate change will flood marshes, disrupting their vital ecological services, and alter other aspects of the ecosystem. Read about how climate change is affecting the Commonwealth …
  • Resilience and thresholds: Due to human activities, the Chesapeake may have entered into an “alternative steady state,” scientists say—in which harmful blooms of algae now dominate areas where diverse fish, plants, and other big organisms were once common. Such changes, bad or good, can happen fast and persist once an ecosystem has crossed an ecological threshold. Learn more here …
  • Aquatic invasive species: Non-native species, such as Phragmites reeds from Europe, are invading many local habitats. They’ve displaced native species that are critical to the health of the Bay’s ecosystems. Find out more …
  • Seagrass beds: Underwater grasses on the Bay’s bottom have disappeared, causing wide impacts to local water quality and fish populations. Find out more about why these plants are so important to the Bay and how they’re threatened …
Cities on the Bay: The Arlington, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Norfolk metropolitan areas have major effects on the Bay’s ecosystem—and residents in each have important roles to play in its cleanup. Read here about recurrent flooding and stormwater problems and solutions…
The National Sea Grant Library

The National Sea Grant Library (NSGL) is the digital library and official archive for NOAA Sea Grant documents. It is the only comprehensive collection of Sea Grant–funded documents from over 30 programs and projects across the country. The collection provides global access to over 24,000 full-text digital documents through the online publications catalog and includes a wide variety of subjects, including oceanography, marine education, aquaculture, fisheries, aquatic nuisance species, coastal hazards, seafood safety, limnology, coastal zone management, marine recreation, and law.