Dec 1, 2017

Special Request for ‘Letters of Intent’ for Marine Ornamental Aquaculture

The Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA) is seeking letters of intent for a collaborative applied research and extension project to address the priority of establishing aquaculture of marine ornamental fish - particularly Yellow Tang - in Hawai’i and the CTSA region.

CTSA’s mission is to support aquaculture research, development, demonstration, and extension education in order to enhance viable and profitable aquaculture in the United States. CTSA is funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The CTSA region includes the following areas: American Samoa, Guam, Hawai’i, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. CTSA strongly encourages collaboration between institutions and agencies in the region, as well as shared funding of large priority projects. Cultivating strong regional partnerships will catalyze the greatest changes in our industry.

In an effort to preserve natural resources, there is a growing desire for the aquarium industry to shift from a dependence on wild stocks to a focus on aquaculture. Recent legislation in Hawai’i has resulted in a ban on commercial fishing of Yellow Tang, a highly sought after marine ornamental species, creating a pressing need for alternative sources. In the past, CTSA sponsored several years of work to try and close the life cycle of Yellow Tang, but paused funding support due to concerns about the ability to captively culture the delicate fish. There have since been significant developments in larval rearing, and researchers are now about to routinely obtain 1-2% survival from egg to juvenile. However, a survival rate of at least 5-10% is necessary in order for the technology to be commercially feasible. Prior research has identified two key areas of mortality that need to be overcome in order to improve overall survival.  These bottlenecks occur just past first feeding (day 5-8 where up to 75% of larvae are lost) and again after flexion (Day 20-40 where up to 50% of remaining larvae can be lost). 

CTSA is seeking Letters of Intent for a research team to address mortality during these key periods, and set a goal/deliverable to achieve significant improvements in survival each year (with a project goal to eventually reach 10% survival). CTSA is willing to provide funding for up to three project years to complete this work. Letters of Intent are welcome for culture of other marine ornamental species as well.

Process and Instructions
If you are interested in participating in the project, please submit a letter of intent to CTSA no later than December 11, 2017. Your brief letter of intent (no more than three pages in length) should clearly explain your desire to participate in the project, and should also include the following information: 

1) Problem Statement
Clearly explain the significance of the targeted problem and its relation to current and future industry development.
2) Potential Objectives & Research Tasks
Define objectives that are achievable and measurable to develop marine ornamental production, and the research tasks that you want to conduct for the project.
3) Expected Industry Impacts
You must clearly define how your work will realistically impact the regional aquaculture industry in economic terms, and indicate the potential return on investment. Please be specific in your description.
4) Approach
Describe the principal approach that will be used to accomplish the objectives outlined in your LOI.
5) Duration
You must clarify the necessary duration of support in order for the project to become self-sustaining.
6) Estimated Budget
Estimate the amount of funding needed to accomplish objectives.
7) Available Resources
List any available resources you may have (i.e. FTE, access to facilities, other funding, etc.) to contribute to the project.
8) Related research (optional)
If you have previously received CTSA funding to address the same species or subject area covered in the current proposal (or similar issues), provide a brief statement highlighting the results of that work and justification for the proposed project.

Letters of Intent received by the deadline, Monday, December 11, 2017 will be reviewed by a panel of CTSA advisors. Based on the level of interest we receive in participation, the panel will build the research project and establish the working group. CTSA anticipates funding one project with a maximum CTSA budget of $100,000 per project year, up to three years in length. It is expected that the funding will be available to commence project activities in July 2018.

Eligible Applicants
Universities, community colleges, or nonprofit research institutions and organizations must lead project execution. Private individuals or commercial companies are welcome to participate in research work but cannot act as the prime contractor for any project.

How to Submit
Please e-mail Letters of Intent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by Monday, December 11, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact Meredith Brooks via e-mail or by telephone at (808) 292- 1323. If necessary, pre-proposals may be faxed to (808) 259-8395 or mailed to the following address:

Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture
C/O Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University
41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy.
Waimanalo, HI 96795