AquaFort & IMTA

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three photos in a collage featuring steelhead trout, an aerial view  of an offshore aquaculture raft, and a fisherman with a tote full of trout

Local Participation in Offshore Aquaculture

New Hampshire Sea Grant’s AquaFort will serve as a offshore aquaculture training platform and research site. The two-year AquaFort research program will recruit local fishermen and farmers from NH, ME, and MA to participate in workshops and daily operations of an offshore aquaculture farm. During this period (2018-2020) the AquaFort will be constructed and deployed, and two seasonal grow-out trials will be conducted. Participants will benefit from hands-on training in: 

  • Site selection and permitting
  • Cage construction and deployment
  • Fingerling acclimation to seawater and transport
  • Aquaculture of Steelhead trout, mussels, and kelp
  • Farm maintenance
  • Harvest and transport to market
  • Economic analysis of farming the AquaFort
  • Aquaculture business planning

The AquaFort structure is designed for two nets that are 20’ x 20’ x 40’ deep.

Graphic depicting AquaFort dimensions 28 ft by 52 ft

20-ton (40,000 lb) production capacity per year:

  • 30,000 lbs of fish (steelhead trout)
  • 10,000 lbs of shellfish (blue mussels)

The AquaFort will be deployed at the University of New Hampshire (UNH)’s permitted offshore aquaculture site, which is ~9 miles from the UNH Pier in New Castle, NH and ~1 mile south of the Isles of Shoals. 

Based on the current IMTA prototype, the AquaFort is robustly engineered for the open ocean and scaled at a commercial size for full-time or part-time farming.

Google Map view showing the AquaFort deployment location 9 miles from the UNH pier and 1 mile south of the Isles of Shoals

Our Goal:

Successful execution of the AquaFort program will lead to (1) increased investment and employment opportunities in offshore aquaculture, (2) the production of fresh, local seafood, and (3) reduced reliance on seafood imports.

What is IMTA?

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) is a self-contained aquaculture system that allows multiple species to grow at the same time within a single floating structure. “Multi-trophic” refers to levels of a food web. Each of the different species in the IMTA system provides a benefit to the others: Steelhead trout, blue mussels, kelp and dulse.

Watch this video to learn more:

This video provides a great overview of our integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) research.


Michael Chambers, Ph.D.
Aquaculture Extension Specialist
(603) 862-3394

Gabriela Bradt, Ph.D.
Fisheries Extension Specialist
(603) 862-2033

Arron Jones
Aquaculture Program Manager

Farmed Species:

Blue Mussels

photo of blue mussels