Barry Costa-Pierce

Costa-Pierce has a 40-year career in the marine and freshwater sciences. His overall research interest is in "Ocean Food Systems": how seafood systems throughout the world interact with marine/freshwater ecosystems, fisheries, aquaculture, and people. He has worked internationally at research organizations in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and in the US at both state and private universities from Hawai'i to Maine. Professor Costa-Pierce is one of the pioneers of the field of "Ecological Aquaculture". He was a member of the global leadership team who built the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)'s "Ecosystems Approach to Aquaculture", and ever since has worked on its global to local implementation. Professor Costa-Pierce has served on the Editorial Board of Aquaculture (Elsevier Science, The Netherlands) for 20 years. In 2016 he was appointed as the journal's first Editor-In-Chief. Before joining UNE in 2012, Professor Costa-Pierce spent 14 years as the Director & Professor of Fisheries and Aquaculture at two NOAA Sea Grant Programs:  the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program at the University of Rhode Island (2001-12), and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (1998-2001). Professor Costa-Pierce was elected a AAAS Fellow in 2015. In 2016, the University of Gothenburg (UGOT) in  Sweden appointed him as a Guest Professor in its newly-formed Swedish Mariculture Research Center (SWEMARC); then, in 2017 the Swedish Royal Academy of Agriculture & Forestry selected Professor Costa-Pierce as its 4th Knut & Alice Wallenberg Professor at UGOT.


Ph.D., Oceanography

University of Hawai'i


M.S., Zoology

University of Vermont


B.A., Zoology

Drew University


Post-Doctoral Training

United Energy Corporation

Foster City



Ecological aquaculture

marine ecology

social-ecological systems


Current Research

My research explores the fields of "ocean food systems", "ecological aquaculture" and the FAO ecosystems approach to aquaculture. I consider Maine as our living laboratory for local to global research in the North Atlantic. I am interested in the sustainability science of marine/freshwater ecosystems as they undergo aquaculture development, and the "new" rubric of "social-ecologcal systems" being used to study "seafood ecosystems" (combined fisheries and aquaculture and trade seafood ecosystems), which I call "ocean food systems". I am interested in understanding the trophic ecology of marine/freshwater systems and using this knowledge to develop better notions of carrying capacities, siting and innovative engineering of aquaculture systems. I consider fisheries and aquaculture sciences to be inseparable "pracademics" where applied issues and problems of coastal places and peoples lead to research outcomes that contribute not only to the advancement of the sciences but also to leadership capacity development and practical problem-solving ("action research"). Therefore, all of my research inquiries, approaches, and activities are devoted to developing partnerships that are transdisciplinary, international, highly collaborative, and are done in teams in partnerships across the natural and social sciences, governance, policy, and engineering fields. I also interact closely with professionals having expertise in the human dimensions of marine/freshwater ecosystems, and especially interested in learning from those who relate to the environmental problems to issues in human health and wellness. Until end 2019 I am a co-PI on a 5-year, $20M NSF EPSCoR UMaine/UNE SEANET award to develop sustainable aquaculture in Maine. I am also co-PI with the USNA on a $1.3 mil, 3-year (to 2021) Department of Energy MARINER award to develop seaweed aquaculture for energy and bioproducts. From late August to end December 2018 I will be on sabbatical at the University of Gothenburg, SWEDEN.

Research Interests

Ocean Food Systems: how seafood systems throughout the world interact with fisheries, aquaculture, and people. Ecological Aquaculture: the transdisciplinary, social-ecological science of ocean food systems. Ecotoxicology: Mercury and persistant organic pollutants (POPs) in seafoods and their associated human and environmnetal risks; Marine ecology: roles of detritus in aquaculture and marine food webs.

Selected Publications

2017. Costa-Pierce, B.A. and R. Langan. The global imperative to develop new models of open ocean aquaculture for accelerating large-scale food and energy production. In: B.H. Buck and R. Langan (eds.) Aquaculture Perspective for Multi-Use Sites in the Open Ocean. The Untapped Potential for Marine Resources in the Anthropocence. Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland.

2017. St. Gelais, A.T., C. Aeppli, C. Burnell, and B.A. Costa-Pierce. Non-dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyl indictor congeners in Northwest Atlantic spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). Marine Pollution Bulletin 120: 414-421.

2017. Fonseca, T., B.A. Costa-Pierce, and W.C. Valenti. Lambari aquaculture as a means for the sustainable development of rural commnities in Brazil. Reviews in Fisheries and Science & Aquaculture 25 (4): 316-330.

2016. B.A. Costa-Pierce. Ocean foods ecosystems for planetary survival in the Anthropocene, P. 301-320. In: E.M. Binder, Editor. World Nutrition Forum: Driving the Protein Economy. Erber AG, Austria, 368p.

2016. St. Gelais, A.T. and B.A. Costa-Pierce. Mercury concentrations in Northwest Atlantic winter-caught, male spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias): A geographic mercury comparison and risk-reward framework for human consumption. Marine Pollution Bulletin 102: 199-205.

2015. Little, D., D. Gatlin, B.A. Costa-Pierce, G. Hulata, B. Austin, A. Farrell, and J. Benzie, Editors. Special Issue on "Research for the Next 40 Years of Sustainable Aquaculture". Aquaculture 431

2015. Filgueira, R. & 16 co-authors. An integrated ecosystem approach for assessing the potential role of cultivated bivalve shells as part of the carbon trading system. Marine Ecology Progress Series 518: 281–287.

2015. Austin, B.,  J.A.H. Benzie, B.A. Costa-Pierce, A.P. Farrell, D.M. Gatlin, G. Hulata, D.C. Little, A.A. van Dam, W.C. Valenti, W. Zhang et al. Introducing: Aquaculture Reports. Aquaculture A1-A2.

2015. Needles, L., S. Lester, R. Ambrose, A. Andren, M. Beyeler, M. Connor, J. Eckman, B. Costa-Pierce, S. Gaines, K. Lafferty, H. Lenihan, J. Parrish, M. Peterson, A. Scaroni, J. Weis, D. Wendt. Managing bay and estuarine ecosystems for multiple services. Estuaries and Coasts 38 (Supplement 1): 35-48.

2013. Christou, P., R. Savin, B.A. Costa-Pierce, I. Misztal, and B. Whitelaw. Sustainable Food Production. Springer Reference, N.Y. 1,865 p. in 3 volumes.

2013. Byron, C.J. and B.A. Costa-Pierce. Carrying capacity tools for use in the implementation of an ecosystems approach to aquaculture, p. 87-102. In: L.G., Ross, T.C. Telfer, L. Falconer, D. Soto and J. Aguilar-Manjarrez, Editors. Site selection and carrying capacities for inland and coastal aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 21. FAO, Rome, Italy. 281 pp.

2013. Ferreira, J., Ramos, L. & B.A. Costa-Pierce. Key drivers and issues surrounding carrying capacity and site selection, with emphasis on environmental components, p. 47-86. In: L.G., Ross, T.C. Telfer, L. Falconer, D. Soto and J. Aguilar-Manjarrez, Editors. Site selection and carrying capacities for inland and coastal aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 21. FAO, Rome, Italy. 281 pp.

2013. Ross, L.G. and 29 co-authors. Carrying capacities and site selection within the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture, p. 19-46. In: L.G. Ross et al. (eds.) Site selection and carrying capacity for inland and coastal aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 21. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy. 281 pp.

2012. Costa-Pierce, B.A. Ecological aquaculture, p. 533-542. In: Meyers, R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Springer Reference, N.Y.

2012. Costa-Pierce, B.A. and G.G. Page. Sustainability science in aquaculture, p. 564-581. In: Meyers, R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Springer Reference, N.Y.

2012. O’Beirn, F., C. McKindsey, T. Landry, and B.A. Costa-Pierce. Methods of sustainable shellfish aquaculture, p. 9174-9196. In: Meyers, R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Springer Reference, N.Y.

2012. Rosenthal, H., B.A. Costa-Pierce, G. Krause, and B.H. Buck. Bremerhaven Declaration on the Future of Global Open Ocean Aquaculture. Part I: Preamble and Recommendations. Part II. Recommendations on Subject Areas and Justifications. AWI, Bremen, Germany.

2012. Costa-Pierce, B.A. & 8 co-authors. Responsible use of resources for sustainable aquaculture, p. 113-148. In: R.P. Subasinghe & 7 Co-Eds. Farming the Waters for People and Food. Proceedings of the Global Conference on Aquaculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, and Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia (NACA), Bangkok. 896 pp.

2012. Ferreira, J., L. Ramos, and B.A. Costa-Pierce. Key drivers and issues surrounding carrying capacity and site selection, with emphasis on environmental components. In: L.G. Ross et al. (Eds.) Site selection and carrying capacity for inland and coastal aquaculture. FAO Proceedings 21. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome, Italy.

2011. Byron, C., J. Link, B.A. Costa-Pierce, D. Bengtson. Calculating ecological carrying capacity of shellfish aquaculture using mass-balance modeling: Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Ecological Modeling 222: 1743-1755.

2011. Byron, C., D. Bengtson, B.A. Costa-Pierce, and J. Calanni. Integrating science into management: ecological carrying capacity of bivalve shellfish aquaculture. Marine Policy 35: 363-370.

2010. Costa-Pierce, B.A. Sustainable ecological aquaculture systems: the need for a new social contract for aquaculture development. Marine Tech. Soc. Jor. 44(3): 1-25.

2008. Costa-Pierce, B.A. An ecosystem approach to marine aquaculture: A global review, p. 81-116. In: Soto, D. et al. (eds). Building An Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 14. Rome, Italy. 221p.

2008. Soto, D. and 22 co-authors. Applying an ecosystem-based approach to aquaculture: principles, scales and some management measures, p. 15-36. In: Soto, D. et al. (eds). Building An Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 14. Rome, Italy. 221p.

Other Scholarly Activity

2017: Fulbright Specialist, University of Akureyri, Iceland

2016-2018: Editor-in-Chief, Aquaculture, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2017-2018: Co-Chair, International Scientific Organzing Committee, "Third Aquaculture Conference 2017: Recent Advances in Aquaculture Research", Qingdao, China, September 24-27, 2017

2015: Member, International Scientific Organizing Committee, "Cutting Edge Science in Aquaculture", Elsevier Science, Le Corum, Monpellier, France, August 23-26, 2015

2013: Chair, International Scientific Organizing Committee, "40 Years of Aquaculture Science", Elsevier Science, Las Plamas, Canary Islands, Spain

2012: Sea Grant Association President’s Award "for leadership of the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program and his pioneering work in the fields of fisheries, aquaculture and healthy coastal ecosystems for the Sea Grant network.”

2011: Elected as AAAS Fellow for “distinguished contributions to global aquaculture and its sustainability and for leadership in marine research, education, and outreach as director of two NOAA-Sea Grant college programs.”

1998— International Editor for Production Sciences, Aquaculture (Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Funded Grants


National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR Program: $20,000,000 for SEANET: The Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network. University of Maine and UNE. Co-PI: Barry A. Costa-Pierce (5 year award ends August 1, 2019)

United States Department of Energy: MARINER Program: $1,300,000. Co-PI: Barry A. Costa-Pierce (3 year award, 2018-2021)

Henry L. & Grace Doherty Foundation of New York: $400,000 for the Ocean Food Systems Masters Program with Nordic Universities. PI: Barry A. Costa-Pierce (3 year award, 2017-2020)


Invited Plenary Presentation

2018: Invited Speaker, "Hawai'i nei as the Origin of Mariculture", Kaua'i Sea Farms, Kaua'i Community College, Lihue, Kaua'i, January 24, 2018

2018: Invited Speaker, "A Local to Global Partnership in Ocean Food Systems", Swedish Mariculture Research Center (SWEMARC), University of Gothenburg, Kristineburg, SWEDEN, February 9, 2018 

2018: Invited Speaker, "Opportunites for The Nature Conservancy in Ecological Aquaculture", Board of Directors, TNC Maine, March 27, 2108

2018: Keynote Speaker, "Ocean Foods System Priorities for Maine", Statewide EPSCoR Conference, University of Maine, Orono, ME, 30 May 2018

2018: Keynote Speaker, "Transdisciplinary ecosystems ecology of community-based kelp (Saccarhina latissima) aquaculture", Internationa Conference on Seaweeds, University of Gothenburg, SWEDEN, une 20, 2018 

2016: Keynote Speaker (Aquaculture Session), "Ocean Foods Ecosystems for Planetary Survival in the Anthropocene", World Nutrition Forum, Vancouver, CANADA, 12-15 October 2016

2016: Session Chair, "Cultivating Trans-Atlantic Ocean Foods Entrepreneurship through International Scientific and Educational Cooperation", and Invited Speaker, "New International Programs in Ocean Foods Ecosystems", Arctic Circle Assembly, Reykjavik, ICELAND

2016: Keynote Speaker, Opening of the Swedish Mariculture Research Center (SEWMARC), University of Gothenburg, SWEDEN

2016: Invited Speaker, How Climate Change is Reshaping Manie's Ocean Economy. Center for Global Humanities, University of New England, Portland, Maine, USA

2015: Invited Speaker, "The Emerging North Atlantic Seafood Ecosystem", Arctic Circle Assembly, Reykjavik, ICELAND

2015: Invited Speaker, "Ecological Aquaculture as a Vital, New, Applied Pracademic of Global Scholarship", 100th Anniversary Conference of the Ecological Society of America, Baltimore, MD

2015: Invited Speaker, "Ecological Aquaculture is the Only Way to Save the World's Last and Most Spectacular Terrestrial Ecosystems from Complete Destruction by Agriculture", Cutting Edge Science in Aquaculture, Le Corum, Montpellier, France

2015:  Invited Speaker, “Ocean Food Ecosystems”, Harvard Food Law Society and Food Literacy Project, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

2014. Invited Speaker, “Fisheries-Aquaculture Ecosystems: Global to Local Interactions between Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems”, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT

2014. Invited Speaker, "Fisheries and Aquaculture: An Artifical Divide", Maine Martime Academy, Castine, Maine.

2013. Keynote Speaker, “Fisheries-aquaculture for the restoration of ocean ecosystems: A review of interactions between sustainable fisheries, marine ecosystems and aquaculture”, Celebrating 40 Years of Global Aquaculture. Elsevier Science, Gran Canaria, Spain

2013. Invited Speaker, “Progress Towards a More Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture”, University of Maine Sustainability Science Program, Margret Chase Smith Policy Center, Orono, Maine

2012: Keynote Speaker, "Open Ocean Aquaculture Development. From Visions to Reality: The Future of Offshore Farming" Offshore Aquaculture Symposium, Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research and IMARE, Bremerhaven, Germany

2011: Invited Speaker, "The Future of Aquaculture", Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) Senior Leadership Retreat, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 7-8.

2011: Invited Speaker, The World Seafood Congress, Washington, DC.

2011: Keynote Speaker, International Conference on Marine Resources and Beyond, Institute for Marine Resources Gmbh, Bremerhaven, Germany

2011: Invited Speaker, National Land Grant/Sea Grant Water Conference, USDA and National Sea Grant College Program, Washington, D.C.

2010: Invited Speaker, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: FAO Expert Workshop on Aquaculture Site Selection and Carrying Capacity Estimates for Inland and Coastal Waterbodies. Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, U.K.

Research Topics

Professor Barry A. Costa-Pierce of the UNE

Barry Costa-Pierce



Executive Director, UNE NORTH: The Institute for North Atlantic Studies

Special Assistant to President for North Atlantic Programs

Henry L. & Grace Doherty Professor of Marine Sciences

2018 Knut & Alice Wallenberg Professor, SWEMARC, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Editor-in-Chief, Aquaculture (Elsevier Science, The Netherlands)

Fellow, Amercian Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Portland Campus

(207) 221-4262

On Campus

Eligible for Student Opportunities