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The Spartan Daily reports on MLML's new aquaculture facility - the first in the CSU

October 29, 2012 - 11:10am

The Sparatan Daily

Jacque Orvis

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is building its first aquaculture facility at the site of the old Moss Landing campus that was destroyed by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

Aquaculture is the large-scale study of marine organisms such as fish, shellfish and algae.

"It was time to rebuild the facility," said Moss Landing Marine Labs professor Mike Graham. "Right now there's no place for aquaculture."

According to Graham, the facility will be the first specifically-focused aquaculture lab in the CSU system.

He said it will be an "incubator for commercial applications" and for students and local businesses to work together to create more sustainable aquaculture farming solutions.

"Providing the best available science to aquaculture practices can enable businesses to increase sustainability, enhance yield and reduce environmental degradation," said Moss Landing Marine Labs development associate and phycology alumna Brynn Hooton-Kaufman.

Local businesses will be able to hire Moss Landing Marine Labs students and faculty to help them learn new methods of sustainable aquaculture, such as figuring out the best diet for marine organisms like abalone, according to Graham.

"Some businesses might like to grow their own seafood," he said. "It will cost them a lot less, and it's more sustainable."

According Hooton-Kaufman, Moss Landing Marine Labs faculty members and the Monterey Abalone Company are working on new ways to increase yield and improve marketability of farmed abalone while decreasing the potential ecological impacts of the farming.

"It'll be a full smörgåsbord of seafood aquaculture," Graham said. "An academic-industry partnership."

He said the academic-industry partnership will give students hands-on training and businesses much-needed resources.

"It will provide jobs for students, income for the university and involvement in aquaculture development," he said.

The site of the current facility — nicknamed "the Shorelab" — was the location of the original Moss Landing Marine Labs acquired by a group of California State colleges in 1965.

Currently the Shorelab contains the seawater system and pump house for the main labs located just south on Sandholdt Road.

Moss Landing Marine Labs serves as the satellite marine biology department for seven California State Universities including San Jose State University.

Funding for construction will come from two Packard Foundation grants awarded to Moss Landing Marine Labs for the earthquake damage in 1989, according to Moss Landing Marine Labs interim director Jim Harvey.

He said they will receive $700,000 to build the lab.

He said they hope to break ground in January after plans for construction are set in stone, and to finish building the new lab by the end of next year.

The building will be designed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards, but Moss Landing Marine Labs will not apply for LEED certification to save money, according to Harvey.

"It's really great that the Packard Foundation is allowing us to use the funds to build this facility," he said. "It's exciting to be doing something positive … in the midst of a financial crisis."

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