AUGUSTA, Maine — An Augusta firm that manufactures aquaculture pens is getting about $100,000 from the federal government to see if it can make the pens using composite lumber.

InnovaSea Systems makes fish pens that are built with high density polyethylene plastic. The company is looking into using a stronger and stiffer alternative.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving the company a Small Business Innovation Research grant to help with the work.

Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree says the project combines a pair of important industries in the state: wood-based composites and marine construction.

The company will work with University of Maine researchers to test the effectiveness of the composite in the lab and the open ocean.