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NC Sea Grant Adds New Coastal Aquaculture Specialist


Frank Lopez, extension director,

North Carolina Sea Grant has hired Eric Herbst to serve as its coastal aquaculture specialist. He will join the program in June, working out of the NC State University’s Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, or CMAST, in Morehead City.

In his new role, Herbst will support the development, expansion and diversification of the state’s coastal aquaculture industries, including shellfish, finfish, and algal species. He fills the opening that arose when Chuck Weirich joined the National Sea Grant Office in fall 2019.

Eric Herbst

Herbst will lead a variety of ongoing and emerging coastal aquaculture projects in the state, including those focusing on education and outreach, technology transfer, and applied research.

“Advancing opportunities within the aquaculture industry is among the key focus areas of Sea Grant — in our state and nationally,” says North Carolina Sea Grant Executive Director Susan White.

“In North Carolina, we have a legacy of working closely with growers — helping their businesses, developing an aquaculture workforce, and promoting locally sourced seafood to consumers,” she adds. “We are pleased that Eric is joining our team to enhance our public and private sector partnerships.”

Among its many partnerships, North Carolina Sea Grant is part of the North Carolina Shellfish Initiative, which aims to create mariculture jobs, protect water quality, shellfish health, and ensure sustainable management in collaboration with other federal, state, nonprofit, and local partners.

“I am very excited about returning to North Carolina and am honored to be joining the North Carolina Sea Grant team in support of the promotion of responsible and sustainable aquaculture,” Herbst says. “I look forward to working closely with growers and farmers, and the diverse group of aquaculture stakeholders and partners to develop solutions to challenges and help grow the state’s aquaculture industry.”

Herbst has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and a master’s degree in fisheries science/aquaculture from Louisiana State University. Eric started his aquaculture career at a fish farm in Pinetown, North Carolina.

“Eric is a skilled scientist with excellent problem-solving skills and over 20 years’ experience in the research and commercial aquaculture sectors. He will bring a fresh perspective and I am looking forward to working with him to continue our state’s rapid growth in aquaculture,” says Frank Lopez, North Carolina Sea Grant’s extension director.