UNH Ocean Seminar

A Social-Ecological Approach to the Development of Integrated Offshore Aquaculture/Wind Energy Systems

Barry Antonio Nunes da Costa-Pierce
President and CEO

Ecological Aquaculture Foundation LLC

Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, 3:10pm
Chase 105

Coastal oceans are crowded with traditional demands for space for fisheries, oil and gas production, transportation, shipping, recreation, and now, for accelerated renewable energy developments. Marine spatial planning (MSP) is being used worldwide as an adaptive management and communications process to understand, communicate, and help resolve competing uses of coastal oceans worldwide. It is estimated that by 2030 MSPs will cover about one-third of the surface area of the world’s EEZs. In 2011 the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OSAMP) of the State of Rhode Island. With NOAA’s approval of the OSAMP under the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act Rhode Island became the first state to incorporate a comprehensive ocean management plan into its coastal zone management program. Approval meant that enforceable state policies were enacted to protect fisheries, important marine habitats and archaeological resources, and also codified a process to identify areas suitable for new, offshore energy projects. Most importantly, this process would also be applied to federal actions in federal waters off state waters. In 2016, six, 150 MW turbines became operational as the first offshore windfarm in the USA. Due to massive demographic and climate changes occurring, it is predicted that planners will be challenged over the next 20 years by increased demands for renewable energy in coastal oceans which will need to be balanced with marine ecosystem, food, tourism, and biodiversity conservation goals. Accelerated development and use of offshore renewable energy systems separately and combined with marine aquaculture could be a key policy driver for many coastal states in their MSPs, especially if aquaculture technologies are implemented broadly as not only food production systems but as complementary conservation, restoration, and enhancement tools for marine fisheries, habitats, and ecosystems. A social-ecological process is codified, and, together with scenario planning can be used as a long-term, adaptive management processes to move forward. International cooperations using ecological design, engineering, and social-ecological approaches can drive many marine research and education innovations locally. Innovations could produce more rapid design and performance optimizations for energy generation, seafood production, biodiversity, and marine ecosystem health that could potentially benefit all stakeholders, increase research and development funding, and boost America’s innovation economy.


Barry Antonio Nunes da Costa-Pierce – who is called “BCP” by his colleagues - is currently the President and CEO of the Ecological Aquaculture Foundation LLC, and Professor in the Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Nord University, Bodø, Norway. He is a dual citizen of the US and Portugal and has both Norwegian and American residency. BCP has a 40+ year career in aquaculture research and development. He has worked in applied aquaculture developments for shrimp, prawns, seaweeds, oysters, clams, tilapias, carps, salmonids, and sea cucumbers from the Tropics to the Arctic.  Internationally he has served as a lead aquaculture and fisheries scientist and policy expert for aquaculture developments while living long-term in Asia, the Pacific Islands, in Africa, and the Americas; and, since 2017, in Europe, for companies, multi-lateral and bilateral banks, NGOs, and universities. He was a member of the United Nations FAO team that developed the FAO “Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture”. BCP served 20 years for Elsevier Science as Editor and Editor-in-Chief for the peer-reviewed journal, "Aquaculture", where he led a global expansion in the size and scope of this top scientific journal. In 2017, Dr. Costa-Pierce was selected by the Swedish Royal Academy of Agriculture and Forestry as the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Professor at the University of Gothenburg to assist in forming the Swedish Mariculture Research Center and inaugurate a new multi-national master’s degree with Norway and Iceland, a program in which he continues as a Professor at Nord. He also continues to serve Sweden as a Senior Advisor to Sweden’s new, multi-university “Blue Food Centre”. Domestically, BCP is the former Director of two NOAA Sea Grant College programs at the University of Rhode Island and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant for which he received the President’s Award from the National Sea Grant Association. He is an Emeritus Professor of Fisheries & Aquaculture at the University of Rhode Island and the University of New England (UNE). He retired from UNE after serving many positions there as the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Endowed Professor of Marine Sciences, Director of the UNE Marine Science Center, Chair of the UNE Department of Marine Sciences, and the founding Executive Director of the UNE Institute for North Atlantic Studies. At UNE he led a major expansion of the university’s undergraduate and graduate degrees, field, and laboratory facilities. He was a co-PI with the University of Maine on a 5-year, $20 million NSF award that established the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) in Maine. Dr. Costa-Pierce has a Ph.D. in Oceanography and Aquaculture from the University of Hawaii and a M.Sc. in Zoology and Limnology from the University of Vermont. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists.