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March 19, 2014

UMBC scientist receives major grant from Gudelsky Family Foundation to advance sustainable aquaculture research

Nick Hammond
IMET Assistant Director

For the third consecutive year, The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation has made a generous philanthropic gift to support the sustainable aquaculture work of marine biologist Yonathan “Yoni” Zohar at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. This year’s grant of $600,000 is the foundation’s largest gift to Professor Zohar, and brings the foundation’s total support of his pioneering research to nearly $1 million.

“I am humbled by the Gudelsky Family Foundation’s support of, and confidence in, our work,” says Zohar. “They clearly understand the importance of sustainable aquaculture and they have shown a ready willingness to help us advance our research to address the depletion of our oceans’ fisheries and to feed people across the globe.”

Zohar is the chair of the department of marine biotechnology at UMBC and heads the Aquaculture Research Center at IMET, a global leader in sustainable aquaculture research. One of his planned uses for the gift is to catalyze new and innovative research on bluefin tuna. Zohar’s current cutting-edge research contributes to closing the life cycle and developing efficient hatchery technologies for commercially and ecologically important marine fish, and developing new generations of healthy seafood production methods to feed a growing world population while also protecting our marine and coastal environments.

“Tuna are a highly valuable commodity across the globe, but unfortunately they are severely overfished,” says Zohar. “We are planning to bring tuna eggs to the Aquaculture Research Center to grow these fish in our state-of-the art facility, in order to study ways to sustain this important species for generations to come.”

The gift will also fund graduate students in Zohar’s lab, in support of basic research on sustainable aquaculture.

In light of overfishing and growing population pressures worldwide, scientists report a significant and continuous decline in the supply of seafood. Better efforts to manage commercial fishing, restore natural stocks and produce marine fish through sustainable aquaculture are needed to maintain fish supplies. In response to the decline in fisheries resources, Zohar notes that marine aquaculture has been steadily growing. However many current aquaculture practices are not environmentally responsible or optimal for the fish. The Aquaculture Research Center grows a number of marine fish in a pristine, fully-contained operation at IMET’s facility in Baltimore, including Mediterranean sea bream, European sea bass, amberjack and other species.

“The generosity of the Gudelsky family is making a long-term, demonstrable impact to advance critical research in aquaculture,” says IMET Director Russell Hill. “We are grateful for their support and foresight in addressing this important environmental issue and are proud of the excellent research being done by Dr. Zohar.”

The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation
The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation was established in 1968 in order to contribute to programs devoted to the improvement of health, education, arts and the community. The Gudelsky Family Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.

Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology
Located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology is a strategic alliance involving scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Scientists are engaged in cutting-edge research in microbiology, molecular genetic analysis and biotechnology, using marine resources to develop new drug therapies, alternative energy and other innovations to improve public health and economic opportunities. IMET also contributes to sustainable marine aquaculture and fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and other marine ecosystems.

Posted by dwinnick at March 19, 2014 11:24 AM