MSU Gulf Coast Aquatic Health Laboratory

researcher in a lab examining fish

Commercial and recreational fisheries have a tremendous impact on Mississippi's economy. In 2020, commercial fisheries landings in Mississippi showed $45 million in dock sales, leading to a $107 million impact on the state's economy. Recreational fishing has an estimated economic impact of more than $650 million in the Magnolia State. Mississippi also has a robust aquaculture industry, and the Gulf of Mexico was recognized as an Aquaculture Opportunity Area by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

These factors make the Mississippi coast the perfect setting for a project looking to improve aquatic health, but moreover, MSU—being the state's leading research university with vast knowledge on aquaculture and aquatic health—makes this a valuable endeavor to the state and research communities alike.

To provide the resources needed to conduct research and diagnostic activities focused on improving the health of aquatic animals and the aquatic environment in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the Mississippi Sound, the Global Center for Aquatic Health and Food Security (GCAHFS) opened the Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Aquatic Health Laboratory as part of its Gulf Coast Aquatic Health Program.

With $1.8 million in funding from NOAA, this three-year project—led by Stephen Reichley, GCAHFS associate director and assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine—will establish a high-quality laboratory used to conduct research and provide cutting-edge diagnostic services for animal and environmental health. The lab will assist in activities related to monitoring wild, marine animal populations and their habitat, supporting the GCAHFS's existing programs on evaluating and monitoring marine mammals and sea turtles with its Gulf Coast Aquatic Health Program.

Between MSU's excellent, long-standing track in aquatic and food security and NOAA's mission of stewarding the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat, this lab will build a team to lead scientific endeavors, which will benefit numerous stakeholders. It will also provide an opportunity for MSU students to gain hands-on research and diagnostic experience.