Aquaculture News

Celebrating Aquaculture Week 2020

9/22/20 – “This week NOAA Fisheries and our partners will celebrate National Aquaculture Week. NOAA Fisheries and its predecessor agencies have been involved in aquaculture for more than 125 years, pioneering fish culture methods and stock enhancement techniques to replenish wild stocks. Many culture, hatching, and rearing techniques currently used by the industry worldwide were developed in NOAA labs, such as the Milford, Connecticut lab for mollusks; the Manchester, Washington, lab for salmon; and the Galveston, Texas lab for shrimp.”

Aquaculture Businesses Now Eligible For Pandemic Relief Funds

9/21/20 – “Shellfish and seaweed growers in Maine are in line for a new round of federal coronavirus relief funds. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says the USDA is expanding the list of producers who can qualify for its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to include aquaculture businesses nationwide. The executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association, Sebastian Belle, says the state’s growing aquaculture sector missed out on the program’s initial funding, but now can join farmers and ranchers to apply for a share of the latest $14 billion allotment. “The impact on particularly our shellfish growers was so big in the marketplace that we knew particularly some of the new smaller growers were likely not to going survive this. And that’s what really drove our advocacy with the delegation and at the national level with the secretary,” he says.

Maine shellfish farmers gaining confidence with scallops

9/21/20 – In Maine, Atlantic sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) are one of the most valuable fisheries in U.S. waters, the target of deep-sea draggers and divers on dayboats. But compared to a seasonal fishery, an aquaculture crop has the key advantage of a year-round supply and steady pricing. In an attempt to build a fledgling scallop farming industry, Maine shellfish farmers started trialling a Japanese technique called ear hanging in 2017. Taking advantage of a sister state agreement with Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, growers in Maine are working to establish semi-automated commercial aquaculture operations.

2 Days 2 Nights | Midcoast Maine

9/15/20 – “Just a few minutes down the road from the entrance of Dodge Point Preserve is a delightful oyster farm; a small sign and flag at the road’s edge are all that indicate where you should turn. Flanking either side of the unpaved driveway are piles of oyster shells and oyster farming equipment… Welcome to Glidden Point Oyster Farm. Just past the parking area is a classic wood barn with the small farm store and onsite dining. There are a limited number of tables, and this place is popular, so be sure to reserve a table in advance. Otherwise, you’ll have to take your oysters to go.”

Forget planting trees: This company is making carbon offsets by putting seaweed on the ocean floor

9/15/20 – “Off the coast of Portland, Maine, an aquaculture startup that raises shellfish is also working on a more radical project: raising kelp in the open ocean, then sinking it to the seafloor to sequester the carbon inside. The company, called Running Tide, argues that the approach could be essentially a permanent way to deal with the excess carbon in the atmosphere. Like trees, seaweed forests suck in carbon from the air as they grow. But while carbon in forests on land can sometimes be lost—as in California, where more than 2 million acres of trees have burned so far this year—kelp that sinks to the bottom of the ocean can stay there for centuries.”

Oysters-By-Mail Might Just Be The Next Big Wave Of At-Home Dining

9/14/20 – “With a quarantine cluster full of people who don’t trust shellfish, I was left to my own devices as the sun set on a very weird year in my life. I shucked and slurped down legitimately 30 oysters — each cold, firm, and briny — before I tapped out and passed the whole operation over the fence to our neighbors. They’re not the “self shucking” sort and were delighted. They also now basically perceive me as a survivalist, because after 30 oysters I was able to pretend to have some level of expertise with popping them open.” 

Portland Fish Exchange looks to shore up its future with aquaculture

9/2/20 – “The Portland Fish Exchange is launching a new oyster sorting and bagging operation inside its cold, cavernous auction warehouse in hopes of growing the state’s aquaculture economy and diversifying a business plan that’s taken a beating since local ground fish landings collapsed. On Wednesday, the Exchange received the first of what it hopes will be many oyster deliveries. Two employees measured, sorted, bagged and tagged five 100-count bags of Eastern oysters harvested by Running Tide, a two-year-old aquaculture company that operates a hatchery in Harpswell and grows oysters, clams and scallops at three coastal Maine locations.”

Atlantic Sea Farms doubles its harvest in 2020, shifts to retail focus

8/27/20 – “Atlantic Sea Farms, the first commercial seaweed farm in the United States, has produced more than 450,000 pounds of kelp this year, doubling its 2019 numbers. Since 2009, the company has aimed to diversify work options for Maine’s coastal communities and promote the domestic growth of seaweed products over imported products – both missions that CEO Briana Warner believes has helped it navigate continued growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Federal money to help aquaculture producers deal with effects of pandemic

8/19/20 – “The Maine Aquaculture Association will receive $64,885 in federal funds to help aquaculture producers create a plan for how to survive the pandemic. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Grant program. ‘This vital grant to the Maine Aquaculture Association is going to be used where it is needed most—assisting the Maine aquaculture businesses who provide our state with shellfish, finfish and sea vegetables,’ USDA Rural Development State Director Timothy Hobbs said in a news release.”

One of the most perplexing questions in seafood has finally been answered

8/18/20 – “Where do Americans consume their seafood? Americans spent roughly $102 billion (€85.5 billion) on seafood in 2017, and 65 percent of that was spent in restaurants and other foodservice outlets, leaving many to conclude, incorrectly, that more seafood is sold in restaurants than at supermarkets and other retail outlets. The new study finally answers the question of where greater volumes of seafood are sold – retail or foodservice – and the winner is retail by a wide margin.” 

USDA: Seafood is key to healthy immune systems and childhood development

8/4/20 – “Seafood netted some historic firsts in the nation’s new dietary guidelines. [. . .] ‘This is by far the strongest they’ve come out for seafood in all of the U.S. dietary guidelines history, and at virtually every point in the lifecycle from babies to pregnant and lactating moms to adults. I was really amazed,’ said Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of pediatrics, chemistry and nutrition at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas/Austin and at Cornell University. Along with taking a whole life approach for the first time, Brenna said the advisers also considered nutritional requirements for children under 2 years of age. ‘The general idea is that kids should be breastfed, that’s the recommendation to six months of age. And starting at six months when you’re introducing finger foods, solid foods, the recommendation is to include seafood right from the beginning,’ he said.”

Aquaculture in Maine predicted to grow as industry seeks skilled-workers

7/30/20 – PORTLAND, Maine — “A new study forecasts Maine’s aquaculture industry will grow, but the state needs more skilled-workers to sustain it. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute published a report in partnership with the Maine Aquaculture Association and Educate Maine, with support from FocusMaine to identify and plan for the future of aquaculture.” Click here to download the full workforce development report.  

Industry Organizations Partner to Promote #EatMaineSeafood

7/31/20 – “The Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) and Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) are collaborating on an effort to encourage seafood businesses, industry organizations, restaurants, and consumers to utilize the hashtag #EatMaineSeafood across social media platforms. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications to identify messages on a specific topic. It categorizes posts on social media like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. People can follow a hashtag to see all the posts that are sorted under that hashtag. A hashtag helps to elevate a common message, and its success can be measured via user-engagement.”

Press Release: Federal Fisheries Advisory Committee Recommends Formation of National Seafood Promotion Council

7/23/20 – The Maine Aquaculture Association welcomes the recent recommendations of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) to the Secretary of Commerce to form a National Seafood Promotion Council.  After a year of stakeholder interviews and researching agricultural and other types of marketing and promotional efforts, MAFAC issued its findings in a report titled, Establishing A National Seafood Promotion Council. Read the full press release here.

US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Recommends Seafood for Pregnant Mothers

07/15/20 – “The federal government document used more often by US nutritional experts than any other to provide dietary guidance will advise women to eat eight to 12 ounces of seafood per week before and after pregnancy, if the US departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (HHS) follow the suggestions of its 20-person advisory panel.”


07/09/2020 – “Stefanie Colombo, an assistant professor of Aquaculture at Dalhousie University’s Agriculture Campus, wanted to shed some light on the murky area by exploring the nutritional differences between salmon [ . . . ] Dr. Colombo found that the more expensive wild Sockeye, which can be $31.50/lb, and wild Chinook had the most nutrient-dense and highest omega-3 content. But she also discovered that farmed Atlantic salmon, which costs about $12.50/lb, had the lowest mercury content, had a high nutrient density, is more affordable and available on both of Canada’s coasts.”

Bremen Farmer Grows Sugar Kelp in Muscongus Bay

6/23/20 – A Bremen farmer recently harvested her first crop of sugar kelp, which she describes as nutritious, tasty, and good for the environment, from her new aquaculture operation in Muscongus Bay. Cold Moon Sea Farm grows and harvests sugar kelp at a location 300 feet off Hog Island. Owner Sarah Wineberg Thorpe markets the product under the name Swell Seaweeds. “It is a species that is native to Maine and is fascinating in a lot of different ways. It grows in bays, coves, and harbors, and variations of the species look very different from one another,” Wineberg Thorpe said.

Meet the Woman Greening up the Ocean and Atmosphere with Kelp

6/10/20 – Atlantic Sea Farms CEO Bri Warner is named a 2020 EatingWell Food Hero! “Where most saw kelp as a slimy sea plant, Warner saw it as a savior [. . .] Kelp takes in and sequesters this greenhouse gas: according to one study, kelp forests may remove 20 times more carbon from the atmosphere than land-based forests. And seaweed makes a lot of sense in Maine. Kelp is harvested in the spring, which is a slower season for the local lobster fishery, and the additional revenue could help cushion the blow if lobster stocks fall, as they are predicted to due to warming waters.”

The Seaweed supplier

5/24/20 – Atlantic Sea Farms of Saco started out growing seaweed, but is now trying to grow a Maine industry. The company began in 2009 as commercial seaweed farming operation called Ocean Approved. It began to expand its mission in 2018, later changing its name to reflect that, and now partners with about two dozen fishermen and women up and down the Maine coast. The fishermen grow the seaweed in their offseasons, then sell it to Atlantic Sea Farms, which produces kelp-based products for sale online, in Whole Foods and other stores, and for use by several health-focused casual restaurant chains.

“I’m not a quitter”: Lobstermen turn to kelp farming in the face of climate crisis

5/19/20 – Kelp farming is positioned as a form of insurance, offering lobstermen such as Baines some of the financial security off-season fishing once did. He is one of the 24 “partner farmers” working with Atlantic Sea Farms, which was founded in 2009 under the name Ocean Approved as the first commercial seaweed farm and nursery in North America. (Baines’s daughter, Jesse, works for the company.) Atlantic cultivates seeds and gives them to partner farmers, assists with the design and layout of the kelp farms, and coaches farmers throughout the season – from setting up the farm in the winter to the harvest in spring, complementary to lobster’s summer to fall season. Because Atlantic Sea Farms seeks experienced lobstermen who already have equipment and know-how, start-up costs tend to be lower than those who are beginning from scratch.

Oyster Farms Adjust to Restaurant Closures

5/13/20 – Chris Davis co-owns Pemaquid Oyster Co., which has farmed oysters on the Damariscotta River since the 1980s. “We started an online seafood program and that drew a lot of interest,” Davis said. Customers can place orders for pickup from a company facility at 1005 Bristol Road in Bristol. Nonetheless, Davis said the pandemic and resulting restaurant closures have had a significant impact. “We are all feeling it right now. Most of our sales go to restaurants,” Davis said.

Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth

5/7/20 – Section 1.  Purpose.  America needs a vibrant and competitive seafood industry to create and sustain American jobs, put safe and healthy food on American tables, and contribute to the American economy [. . .] By removing outdated and unnecessarily burdensome regulations; strengthening efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; improving the transparency and efficiency of environmental reviews; and renewing our focus on long-term strategic planning to facilitate aquaculture projects, we can protect our aquatic environments; revitalize our Nation’s seafood industry; get more Americans back to work; and put healthy, safe food on our families’ tables.

Maine nets $20 million in federal bailout of us fishing industry

5/7/20 – Maine is in line to get $20.3 million to help its battered seafood industry weather the COVID-19 storm. The award comes out of the $300 million in federal funding included in the CARES Act to help the U.S. fishing industry survive pandemic-related economic losses. Maine’s award was the fifth-highest out of 31 states, trailing only Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts and Florida. It’s unclear how the funds will be split among the 18,000 licensed fishermen, seafood dealers, processors, aquaculture operators and charter fishing operators that make up Maine’s seafood industry, which nets an estimated $788.2 million a year in revenues. The sector has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic.

Maine Aquaculture Association takes the helm of the state’s burgeoning industry

5/7/20 – MAA has advocated for the state’s aquaculture industry since 1978. In more recent years, the state has seen an increase in the number of aquaculture-related businesses. Most notably, shellfish and sea vegetable farms in addition to several new land-based RAS projects have developed. With this recent growth, MAA has continued to strengthen its stance as the state’s leader in supporting up and coming aquaculture businesses and their employees. [ . . . ] MAA is committed to growing a sustainable future for Maine’s seafood industry and the people who rely on it, and we are proud to have them as a Strategic Partner of GAA.

New direct-to-consumer plans for Maine seaweed

4/29/20 – Portland, Maine – ‘Maine Seaweed Week’ has been a way for harvesters and restaurant chefs to introduce people to a new food; now organizers have pivoted [. . .] Seaweed harvesters like Spartan Sea Farms are delivering their product directly to consumers. “This is really a first time, unique opportunity to get your hands on a big bag of fresh kelp and really start playing around with it.” Ken Sparta, with Spartan Sea Farms, says seaweed can be plugged into a lot of different recipes. “We started delivering directly, and we gave out recipes and started a recipe book, and all of our customers have started connecting with us, and sharing their recipes, so it’s been really great.” [. . .] To find some of those recipes, or restaurants taking part in the event, click here.

Green Plate Special: Nervous about cooking with seaweed?

4/26/20– Atlantic Sea Farms doesn’t sell raw kelp because “if kelp doesn’t taste good, people aren’t going to eat it,” Warner said. Instead, it sells ready-to-eat blanched, shredded kelp that can be tossed into any dish; and pureed kelp cubes, good for smoothies but also handy for sauces, baked goods and salad dressings. Its fermented seaweed salad is a preservative-free alternative to imported Japanese products; its Sea-Chi is a sea-based take on kimchi; and I can attest that its Sea-Beat Kraut makes a great addition to a Rueben sandwich.

Forum: Now is the time to appreciate local food producers

4/24/20 – With the restaurant sector temporarily shut down, markets for local seafood products have taken a huge hit. Like many others who depend on small businesses, working waterfront families and the coastal communities they support are struggling to make ends meet. Let’s do our part to support them by purchasing local seafood. Take it home and experiment with a new dish or recipe. Celebrate local food and the folks who produce it for you literally in your backyard.

Coastal Conversations Radio Program: The Impact of COVID-19 on Fisheries and Aquaculture

4/24/20– Today our show is about the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Maine’s fishermen and aquaculture farmers. Like so many small businesses, marine industries have been hit hard by the pandemic. National and global seafood markets for Maine fish and shellfish have almost entirely dried up, and people are scrambling for ways to keep their businesses afloat.

SEANET’s Legacy: The impact of interdisciplinary aquaculture research on the state of Maine

4/17/20 – In January 2020, Maine EPSCoR’s Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 1 project, the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET), was officially completed. However, the legacy of the program will live on through the continued interdisciplinary research carried out by institutions such as the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI), which is SEANET’s named legatee.

‘Sea farm to table’: easy ways to prepare delicious local seafood

4/13/20 – To encourage local seafood consumption at home, the Maine Aquaculture Association has created a series of recipes and short instructional videos as part of a new series titled “Sea Farm to Table.” The growing library of creative dishes includes a blueberry and mint smoothie using frozen Maine kelp from Atlantic Sea Farms, a company that partners with Maine lobstermen to grow kelp during the off-season.

From the dock to doorstep during Maine’s coronavirus outbreak

3/27/20 – Mere Point Oyster Company is trying out delivery service and is teaming up with other fishermen and businesses to offer customers a one-stop shopping experience. Oysters, clams, scallops, little necks, mussels, and other shellfish are ready to be dropped off. “If you’re in your house and you are locked in there you are going to be able to get food because the food producers, whether it be the farmers, or the fishermen, or the oystermen, or the shellfish farmers or the clam diggers, they are going to get you your food,” said Devereaux. “[It] gives people a sense of ease during troubling times like right now.”

Fishermen turn to direct marketing as demand for maine seafood plummets

3/26/20 – “There definitely appears to be growing interest among aquaculturists and wild harvesters alike” in directly marketing their products, DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols said. DMR worked on producing the flier together with Sea Grant, the University of Maine and NOAA Fisheries. “We will also be sharing it and building on that information in the near future,” Nichols said.

Maine Voices: Aquaculture benefits waterfront communities

1/23/20 – Maine lobstermen and commercial fishing families have turned to aquaculture to boost revenue and diversify their businesses. According to data from the Department of Marine Resources, roughly 50 commercial lobster license holders also hold aquaculture leases, meaning that one in every six Maine aquaculturists also captains a lobster boat.

Maine Aquaculture Association launches video to boost state’s farmers

1/20/20 – The Maine Aquaculture Association has kicked off a new video series focused on telling the personal stories of aquatic farmers throughout the state to increase public visibility and underscore how aquaculture complements existing marine industries in coastal communities.

Aquaculture Allows couple to work on the water year-round
12/13/19 – Marshall Cove Mussel Farm, owned by island residents Josh and Shey Conover, was the subject of a video released by the Maine Aquaculture Association [. . .] Josh has long enjoyed working on the water, she said, having fished for lobster since he was 10 years old. When the couple bought Islesboro Marine in 2013, he had been researching aquaculture at the same time that Shey was working at the Island Institute in Rockland helping other people start aquaculture businesses, she said. So getting into the business of farming mussels was a natural supplement to what they were already doing.
Islesboro Lobsterman featured in “faces of Maine’s working waterfront” video series
12/06/19 – The Maine Aquaculture Association has announced the release of a new video series titled, “The Faces of Maine’s Working Waterfront.” The videos tell the stories of aquatic farmers in Maine, underscoring how aquaculture complements existing marine industries and works to diversify and strengthen our coastal economy.