There are a variety of grants available to fish farms that have a focus on research and development. Most grants are offered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and related federal programs. NOAA also offers subsidized financing for initial fish farm costs. Fish farms can get additional technical assistance and counsel through state farm bureaus.
Small Business Innovation Research Program
NOAA offers federal funding to small businesses conducting research and development in aquaculture technology. The Small Business Innovation Research Program sets aside research and development funding typically taken by large companies and awards it to small businesses. To qualify, the fish farm must have fewer than 500 employees, and the principal researcher must be an employee of the fishery. The grant application period generally opens in mid-October and closes in mid-January.
Marine Fisheries Initiative
The NOAA Marine Fisheries Initiative offers funding for projects that optimize the social and economic benefits from fisheries. Funds are directed at projects that provide answers to needs under the National Marine Fisheries Service strategic plan. The initiative focuses on the southeast region of the U.S., and exact priorities vary from year to year. For example, there may be funding opportunities for optimizing harvesting methods, fish handling and processing in certain geographical areas.
Sea Grant Marine Aquaculture Grant Program
If your fish farm contributes to economic and environmental research regarding aquaculture, apply for the NOAA Sea Grant. The purpose of the sea grant is to emphasize a safe and sustainable supply of seafood to meet public demand. Although the grant won't cover run-of-the-mill expenses and operational costs, it will award funds based on research projects and partnerships around fishing sustainability. Pre-proprosals for the grant are due around February each year.
Fisheries Finance Program
Unfortunately, grants rarely cover initial expenses and startup costs for a fish farm. NOAA also offers subsidized loans for initial expenses to fisheries through its fisheries finance program. The program offers long-term loans up to 25 years to cover the costs of construction, expansion, and purchase of aquaculture facilities. The loans are awarded for up to 80 percent of initial costs, and the new loan fee is capped at 0.5 percent.
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