The federal government is sending $20 million to Maine to fund the creation of a sustainable aquaculture research program.

The $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation will establish the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network, or SEANET, at the University of Maine.

The public-private partnership is led by UMaine in collaboration with the University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Maine Maritime Academy, Bowdoin College, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the Cobscook Community Learning Center, along with several other educational and marine research organizations in the state.

It will use the state’s 3,500-mile coastline as a “living laboratory” to study social and environmental interactions among sustainable ecological aquaculture and coastal communities and coastal ecosystems, which have local, national and global implications, according to a news release from UMaine.

“This research project will use various types of science to understand how aquaculture fits in our multi-use working waterfront, while building partnerships and training students, so that we can use similar approaches to other coastal resource management issues in the future,” Paul Anderson, director of SEANET at UMaine, said in a statement.

The Maine award is one of six the National Science Foundation announced on Tuesday. Other awardees include Missouri, where organizations will research the ability of plants and crops to adapt to climate change, and Kentucky, where researchers will investigate the energy economy and the transition from using coal as fuel to renewable resources.

“These projects exemplify the national imperative to engage in cutting-edge research, provide educational opportunities for future generations of scientists, stimulate the economy and create jobs,” Denise Barnes of the NSF said in a statement.

The grant is from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which directs federal funds to states that have historically received less federal research and development funding.

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