Community News

Read all about the exciting things happening in Maine’s innovative and diverse aquaculture community. From land to sea, fin fish to shellfish and everything in between – check out industry news below and learn how Maine seafood producers are building a sustainable, resilient local food system with aquaculture.

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE IS SPURRING SOME MAINE LOBSTERMEN TO SELL THEIR BOATS

Bangor Daily News, 10/28/22 – “Others, like Kaleb Campbell, a 23-year old lobsterman from North Haven, are looking to stay on the water through aquaculture. Campbell comes from a long line of fishermen. He started himself as a kid, hand hauling traps from a skiff, and eventually bought his own boat to fish 600 traps. But he’s now looking to sell his gear and possibly join his brother and father, who now both run an oyster farm on the island. It’s been a tough choice for Campbell, who always imagined that he’d be a lifelong lobsterman who’d eventually bring his kids into the fishery.”

FROM THE SEA UP PODCAST: NEW EPISODE ON GOULDSBORO; AMERICAN AQUAFARMS PROPOSAL

Island Institute, 10/27/22 – “In this episode, we visit South Gouldsboro, a small and active working waterfront with stunning views of Cadillac Mountain and the proposed lease site. With perspectives from a seaweed farmer and cultivator, Sarah Redmond, and Jerry Potter, a longtime lobsterman, this episode explores the identity and needs of one working community along Gouldsboro’s expansive coast. As pressures from outside interests build in rural Maine, we ask the question: What kind of working waterfront do we want to see here in the future?”

MAINE BREWERY AND AQUACULTURE FIRM RANKED AMONG U.S. ‘BRANDS THAT MATTER’

Mainebiz, 10/26/22 – “Alongside clothing label Abercrombie & Fitch and Aflac insurance, two Maine companies — Allagash Brewing Co. and Atlantic Sea Farms — made Fast Company’s 2022 list of 144 “brands that matter.” Now in its second year, the list has grown from 95 brands last year recognized by the monthly business magazine. The publication noted that all of this year’s honorees “clearly generated enthusiasm among their customers, offering a model of what other brands should be aiming for, and what a brand, at its best, can achieve.”

KINGFISH MAINE PROJECT GETS LOCAL GO-AHEAD

Fish Farmer Magazine, 10/24/22 – “In a significant move, the community of Jonesport, close to where the RAS (recirculating aquaculture systems) facility will be built has approved Kingfish Maine’s construction application. Kingfish said today: ‘With the Kingfish Maine project fully permitted by state and federal regulatory agencies, this local building permit is the final step required for Kingfish to begin pre-construction design and engineering on its new facility in the US. The town of Jonesport is now drafting its findings of fact and the Planning Board is expected to formally adopt and sign the building permit in early November.'”

YOUR CHOICE, YOUR VOICE: MAINE’S ICONIC INDUSTRIES ARE FORCED TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE

WMTW-8, 10/19/22 – “Lobster pounds were once a staple of Maine’s shellfish industry, but the pounds, which are used to store and breed lobsters, are now largely extinct due to warming waters. Working waterfronts like Community Shellfish in Bremen have converted lobster pounds into oyster farms, which are far more friendly to warm water. ‘We basically repurposed an obsolete asset to take advantage of global warming,’ said Boe Marsh, the owner of Community Shellfish. ‘I think we are hedging our bets and we are also getting into an industry that has real potential.’

An Oyster Farmer Carrying on the Family Business

Civil Eats, 10/13/22 – “When she’s not doing schoolwork or playing field hockey, 15-year-old Gaby Zlotkowski can be found working with oysters: flipping cages, harvesting, shucking, and more. It’s not uncommon for teens to help with the family business, but the island town of Isleboro, Maine, about 100 miles northeast of Portland, is primarily lobster country. It’s all the more notable that Zlotkowski was a driving force not only behind her mom starting Isleboro Oyster Company, but is also now pursuing an oyster and kelp farm of her own. ‘Growing up on an island where there’s only really lobstering, I thought [the oyster farm] would be a really good opportunity for our family—and I’d get oysters whenever I wanted,’ Zlotkowski said.”

WEALTHY OWNERS OF A PRIVATE MAINE ISLAND ARE FIGHTING DEVELOPMENT AND TAXES

Bangor Daily News, 10/12/22 – “The relationship between the seasonal residents of Roque Island and Jonesport town officials has soured over the past several years — and a land-based fish farm proposal is making it worse. Through legal filings, the Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation has opposed financial and economic measures that Jonesport town officials have pursued or supported. It has appealed the island’s property tax bills, and also gone to court to keep seaweed harvesters off their shores. These decisions — and whether Kingfish Maine should be given approval for building a $110 million dollar fish farm in the town — have considerable economic implications for Jonesport and surrounding towns where good-paying jobs are in short supply.”

MAINE SEAWEED COMPANY BIDS FOR MORE GROWTH, SIGNS DEAL WITH BUSINESS BACKED BY CELEBRITY CHEF

Portland Press Herald, 10/3/22 – “A 2017 benchmark study by the Maine Aquaculture Association found that only 1 in 6 seaweed farms were profitable, so it was initially a hard sell to get people interested. ‘I think their guarantee to buy from partner farms are critical, especially for new farmers who are learning as they go,’ said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association. ‘By guaranteeing to buy the product, Atlantic Sea Farms significantly reduces the risk to the farmer that they will invest time and money and then not be able to sell the product [. . .] I think it is pretty clear that well-run farms are profitable because more and more working waterfront families are getting into it,’ Belle said. ‘If it was not profitable they would not take the risk.'”

THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS AT THE HEART OF MAINE’S BOOMING OYSTER BUSINESS

Bangor Daily News, 9/29/22 – “The environmental changes have threatened the livelihoods of oyster farmers who depend on clean water. But in Maine, the farmers have fought back. They have come up with solutions to improve the marine environment, hired their own researchers to understand what is happening, shifted to using renewable energy and limited their use of plastics, and turned to policy work at the state and regional level to build climate resilience. Their efforts appear to be paying off. In 2021 the state’s oyster harvest was the largest in history, growing by more than 50 percent over the previous year, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The oyster business was also the most valuable it has ever been at more than $10 million, making it the fourth-most valuable marine resource in Maine.”

SORRENTO REJECTS AQUACULTURE MORATORIUM

Ellsworth American, 9/28/22 – “At the annual Town Meeting on Sept. 24, Sorrento voters rejected a proposed moratorium ordinance on all industrial-scale aquaculture development in the waters of Sorrento. Despite widespread opposition to industrial-scale aquaculture in Frenchman Bay, voters were swayed by a local oyster farmer who highlighted some problems with the proposed moratorium [. . .] Graham Platner of Frenchman Bay Oyster Co. spoke up at the meeting about some wording in the proposed moratorium. ‘According to the language in this moratorium, we’re [Frenchman Bay Oyster Co.] industrial-scale, in fact every single aquaculture operation currently in Sorrento is,’ said Platner. ‘Everything over 5 acres this moratorium counts as industrial. That’s not an accident.'”

KELP COULD PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN TRAPPING CARBON EMISSIONS FROM OUR ATMOSPHERE

News Center Maine, 9/26/22 – “At Atlantic Sea Farms in Biddeford, Thew Suskiewicz works with a team of workers in the early stages of kelp cultivation. In a room of around a dozen tubs, house another dozen or so spools of twine. Each string is home to thousands of microscopic juvenile kelp. Suskiewicz is the cultivation manager and said the room of tubs and spools will end up producing more than 1 million pounds of kelp come April. Dubbed “Dr. Kelp” by his colleagues, Suskiewicz details the ins and outs of the process.”

PINGREE ANNOUNCES $2 MILLION FEDERAL INVESTMENT TO STRENGTHEN MAINE AQUACULTURE

Office of Chellie Pingree, 9/23/22 – “Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today announced $2.12 million in federal funding to strengthen Maine’s aquaculture industry. Awarded through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant program, the funding will support sustainable aquaculture projects at the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, as well as continue funding for additional projects at the University of Maine and Maine Sea Grant.”

LUMPFISH COULD BE THE ANSWER TO SEA LICE PROBLEMS FOR SALMON, UMAINE RESEARCHERS SAY

Bangor Daily News, 9/22/22 – “With the help of a docile fish with an unusual name, researchers at the University of Maine are hoping to help salmon farmers address a problem that has plagued them for decades: sea lice. Sea lice are a type of parasitic crustacean that can infiltrate salmon cages in the ocean. The lice latch onto salmon and harm both the salmon’s appearance and its health, reducing the value of the fish. In 2016, sea lice infestations caused the world’s supply of farmed salmon, estimated to be million of tons each year, to drop by 10 percent, according to UMaine researchers.”

VIEWPOINT: MAINE AQUACULTURE IS A THING OF BEAUTY

Mount Desert Islander, 9/1/22 – “As a sea farmer, I am asked, almost daily, about aquaculture and its rapid growth in the state of Maine. I take the time to answer because it means that other people also care about our shared ocean and the future of this coastline. I don’t see the sector of aquaculture as expanding rapidly. It took us almost three years to complete our application and receive our 22-acre lease in Mt. Desert Narrows. We also have 3,200 square feet of limited purpose sites in the Skillings River, which allow us to run an upweller for our small seed in the spring and to harvest through the ice year-round. The leasing process is long, rigorous and full of scrutiny, as it should be. I understand that, to some, 22 acres may seem like a lot of space for one company. Some would even consider this ‘industrial.’”

UMAINE LAB SOLVING ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

WABI–5, 8/29/22 – “The University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory serves as a central hub for environmental research on a number of Pine Tree State issues. We stopped by for Governor Mills’ tour of the facility, and found out more about their mission [. . .] ‘One of my favorite projects is actually with W.L. Gore, Gore Tex, where we’re looking at a pest of Atlantic salmon,’ Aquaculture Research Institute director Debbie Bouchard said. ‘From that petri dish scale, we’re now doing a full-blown marine site study.'”

Burgeoning salmon farming industry sparks controversy over pollution and sustainability

PBS News Hour, 8/25/22 – “There has been a growing appetite around the world for fish. But that growth in demand is raising all kinds of questions and concerns for the industry about sustainability and impact. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien has the first of a two-part look at what’s known as “aquaculture.”

MAINE FISHERMEN AND OYSTER FARMERS ARE WELCOMING TOURISTS ABOARD TO BOOST THEIR INCOME

Bangor Daily News, 8/24/22 – “Maine’s famed seafood has long been a major draw for tourists. Visitors love to chow down on a lobster roll, shoot some freshly shucked oysters and see the lobster boats moored in the state’s many harbors. To capitalize on that interest, a growing number of commercial harvesters are getting directly involved in tourism themselves. More than two dozen Maine oyster farmers and a few commercial lobstermen have started providing tours and firsthand demonstrations in recent years to show how the state’s prized seafood goes from ocean-to-plate.”

WINNING SOCIAL LICENSE IN MAINE

Aquaculture North America, 8/23/22 – “Voting 201 to 91, residents of this lobstering community of about 1,250 rejected a proposed moratorium on commercial aquaculture facilities.  It was a significant sign of support for Kingfish Maine to move forward with its proposed recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility, projected to produce 6,000 to 8,000 metric tons of yellowtail annually.  The events on the warm summer evening came at a time when Maine has seen some chilly opposition  —from organized statewide groups, as well as local communities — to aquaculture projects that have ranged from land-based RAS to a well-established oyster farm that sought to increase its lease to 35 acres (and succeeded).”

AQUACULTURE AND MAINE MARINE LIVING RESOURCES 2022

Bangor Daily News, 8/19/22 – Check out this insert that ran in the print edition of the Bangor Daily News during one of their highest circulation weekends of the year. The insert includes great coverage of some of the most exciting projects happening in our sector right now. Take a look here!

FORMER MAINE SCHOOL TEACHER, SEAFOOD REPORTER GROWS OYSTER FARM

Undercurrent News, 8/4/22 – “In 2018, Lauren Gray left her job as one of just two teachers in a two-room schoolhouse on Maine’s Cranberry Isles to pursue full-time her then three-year-old oyster farming business. Now she’s getting ready to plant some 300,000 oyster seeds and preparing for expansion, reports Maine Biz. ‘I had savings from teaching and started with about $50,000,’ the founder of Cranberry Oysters told the news service in a recent interview.”