USA – A new Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Centre worth US$10 million has opened with the commitment to support the future of the seafood sector in Virginia and eventually the rest of the united states.

“We’re here to serve the Virginia seafood industry, working to identify and respond to emerging needs and opportunities.” Michael Schwartz, the director of the facility said.

“The enhanced capacity of this new building will allow us to grow programs in ways that will benefit our stakeholders for years to come.” He added.

The research facility is 22,224 square-foot and it comprises research laboratories and aquaculture facilities that aim to work with the industry and research partners to keep up to speed with the rapidly growing sector.

The new team, who recently moved to the location at 15 Rudd Lane, consists of researchers, technicians, students and professors who conduct multidisciplinary research studies to aid the rise of sustainable and competitive fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

The US$10 million funding was sourced from numerous bodies such as the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Hampton and a grant from the Economic Development Administration of the US Department of Commerce.

The facility has been strategically positioned at the heart of the Virginia seafood industry, sandwiched between two multigenerational seafood companies and L.D. Amory and Co., one of the largest East Coast seafood distributors.

The researchers have already started working on a fish feed made from sorghum, which is intended to be cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

All the equipment needed for this project, and all upcoming others, is at the disposal of the researchers such as the fish in the facility’s aquaculture systems which are made up of large drums into which water is pumped and filtered from the Hampton river.

“So many of our coastal communities are reliant on seafood for jobs,” said Michael Schwartz, “We see this new building as giving us that much more capacity to help keep Virginia’s seafood industry growing.”

 The new AREC will inevitably strengthen Virginia Seafood’s existing businesses and partner with institutional researchers to equip the surrounding seafood and aquaculture industries with the information they need to thrive.

“This new facility, manned with talented researchers and technicians, will continue to aid the advancement of the local, national and international seafood industry and support its stakeholders,” Steven Lynch, senior business development manager with the city of Hampton, said.

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