MAA in the News

Ever wonder what the Maine Aquaculture Association has been up to? Track MAA projects, programs, and collaborations with industry partners here on our news page! 

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Horton
simmerpublicrelations@gmail.com
(207) 838-0084

WHAT’S NEXT IN SEAFOOD SUSTAINABILITY?

Progressive Grocer, 5/10/22 – “Speaking of aquaculture done right, the Maine Aquaculture Association has had that goal since it was founded back in 1977, making it the oldest state aquaculture organization in the country. According to Executive Director Sebastian Belle, with whom PG spoke during the expo, the Hallowell-based nonprofit association also pioneered the internal adoption of best practices, developing codes of conduct to which farmers were expected to adhere, with external audits and third-party certification beginning in 1991. Today, the Maine Aquaculture Association spends much of its time providing support services, including business planning, to new farmers. Belle pointed out that Maine’s aquaculture community is an increasingly diverse group whose average age is in the mid-thirties.”

MAINE’S TOURISM INDUSTRY IS READY FOR SUMMER

News Center Maine, 4/14/22 – “According to the [Maine Office of Tourism], 15.6 million visitors came to Maine, which generated a total economic impact of more than $14 billion in 2021 and supported more than 143,000 jobs. Those numbers helped The Maine Oyster Trail find success when it launched last summer. More than 80 businesses work together to provide unique and authentic Maine experiences centered around oysters. Afton Vigue, Jaclyn Robidoux, and the rest of The Maine Oyster Trail team were honored at the Conference Thursday, winning the Governor’s Leadership and Growth award.” 

MAINE AQUACULTURE LEADER STEPS ONTO NATIONAL STAGE

Mainebiz, 4/5/22 – “A leading voice in Maine’s aquaculture sector has been tapped to work on industry issues at the national level. Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association, was named president of the board of directors of the National Aquaculture Association for the 2022 term. ‘Maine is often viewed as a case study for how to ‘do things right’ in terms of balancing development with the interests of multiple stakeholders in public waters and how to protect the environment,’ Belle told Mainebiz.”

AQUACULTURE ASSOCIATION CREATES DISTRIBUTION MANUAL FOR GROWERS

Ellsworth American, 3/9/22 – “‘When COVID hit, our sales shut down instantly,’ Brooksville oyster farmer Tonyia Peasley recalled. She and husband Frank Peasley own and operate Little Island Oyster Co., where the Bagaduce River winds through Brooksville. With roughly 80 percent of seafood landing in restaurant kitchens for their diners to consume, the initial pandemic shutdown was devastating for growers and harvesters of oysters, mussels, seaweeds and other aquaculture products, according to the Maine Aquaculture Association. So, to help aquaculturists navigate the maze of new and vanishing distribution channels, the MAA released an Aquaculture Distribution Mapping Manual on March 1.”

DOCUMENTING MAINE AQUACULTURE THROUGH FILM

Aquaculture North America, 3/9/22 – Contributed by Afton Vigue, outreach and development specialist for the association: “Shortly after I began work at the Maine Aquaculture Association in 2019, I realized that aquaculture is a relatively abstract concept for most folks. Few people ever come in contact with a sea farm. While this may seem like a big hurdle for the industry to overcome, I see it as an opportunity for us to tell our story to a broad audience with few opinions on the subject. In the digital age, one of the most compelling tools we have to tell stories is film.”

GO-TO-MARKET GUIDE AIMS TO HELP SEAFOOD FARMERS NAVIGATE SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES

Mainebiz, 3/2/22 – “The Maine Aquaculture Association on Tuesday released a guide designed to help seafood farmers evaluate distribution channels for their products to best decide how to get them to market [. . .] ‘As Maine’s working waterfront continues to face new supply chain challenges, the industry and consumer demand keeps growing,’ Sebastian Belle, the association’s executive director, said in the release. ‘By nature, Maine’s farm fishing families are open to navigating choppy waters when they need to. It’s our collective responsibility to support their efforts to bring their product to market.'” 

WITH $383K GRANT, AQUACULTURE ‘PIONEERS’ PROGRAM AIMS TO GROW WORKFORCE

Mainebiz, 2/3/22 – “Maine’s aquaculture industry has been cultivating a new workforce and new growth opportunities in recent years. Now a new pilot program is getting ready to provide a pathway to long-term careers in the sector. FocusMaine and Educate Maine on Thursday announced the Aquaculture Pioneers Program, a two-year effort funded through a $382,504 grant from the Builders Initiative, according to a news release. [. . .] ‘The Aquaculture Pioneers program is an important component in the state’s ongoing development of a diverse and competitive aquaculture sector,’ Sebastian Belle, executive director of Maine Aquaculture Association, said in the release.”

Aquaculture “roadmap” plots industry’s needs, potential

Ellsworth American, 2/1/22 – “As aquaculture and its contribution to the state economy grows, so does the need to support it. The Maine Aquaculture Association and Maine Sea Grant released the Maine Aquaculture Roadmap, 2022-2032 last week, a 10-year plan developed with feedback from nearly 100 organizations and companies. It outlines four main goals and identifies $15 million in resources needed to strengthen the commercial aquaculture industry and working waterfronts across the state. “Aquaculture is clearly a priority for Maine, and we needed a forward-looking, research-driven plan to responsibly sustain Maine’s marine farming sector. Now we have one that supports Maine’s farm families and the future of the working waterfront,” said Fiona de Koning, a shellfish farmer and owner of Acadia Aqua Farms in Bar Harbor.”

10-YEAR PLAN FOR MAINE’S WORKING WATERFRONT PUBLISHED

News Center Maine, 1/29/22 – “Maine Sea Grant and the Maine Aquaculture Association, which represents 190 commercial aquaculture farms in the state, have released a plan to support farmers crucial to the state’s seafood industries for the next decade. The Maine Aquaculture Roadmap calls for $15 million in added resources over the next 10 years to support industries like mussel, oyster, scallop, kelp, and salmon farmers who work in and around Maine’s shores.”

REPORT: $15M INVESTMENT NEEDED TO BOLSTER MAINE AQUACULTURE OVER NEXT DECADE

Mainebiz, 1/26/22 – “Maine’s aquaculture sector has been steadily growing in recent years, and a new industry report identifies over $15 million in resources that may be needed to continue that growth over the next decade. The Maine Aquaculture Roadmap 2022-32 was released Tuesday by the Maine Aquaculture Hub, Maine Sea Grant and Maine Aquaculture Association. The roadmap was developed with feedback from approximately 150 stakeholders representing nearly 100 different organizations and companies operating in Maine’s marine economy.”

2022 FORECAST: WITHIN DIVERSE AQUACULTURE INDUSTRY, SLOW-BUT-STEADY GROWTH

Mainebiz, 1/10/22 – “A dominant trend in Maine’s aquaculture industry over the past year is new distribution channels through retail and direct-to-consumer, says Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association. ‘We saw consumer starting to prepare seafood at home, something they might not have done in the past,’ he says. A great example is oysters, long consumed mostly at restaurants. ‘We’ve now got a tremendous market in retail and direct-to-consumer sales,’ he says. The industry is also seeing strong growth in out-of-state markets.”

Maine aquaculturists issue nation’s first occupational standards for growing industry

MaineBiz, 10/21/21 – “In a sign that the industry is rapidly maturing, the Maine Aquaculture Association in Hallowell this week released a set occupational standards for marine farming — the first such benchmarks in the country, the group said. ‘Based on a strong collaboration between the farmers and the educational community, these standards will help ensure that Maine aquaculture businesses have the skills and training needed to compete in a global market,’ Executive Director Sebastian Belle said in a news release.”

OYSTERS IN MAINE

Boston Globe, 9/1/21 – “Plan an oyster-centric getaway this fall with the Maine Oyster Trail, a recently-launched interactive guide to oyster experiences in the state. Slurp and shuck your way along the trail that connects you to 75 Maine businesses, including oyster farm tours, raw bars, mobile shuck trucks, charter tours, and kayak excursions, as well as opportunities to buy oysters directly from farmers along the coast. The Trip Planner allows you to build your own custom route with filters for coastal regions, hands-on experiences, and oyster “hot spots.” Use the digital Oyster Passport to check in at participating businesses, track visits, and complete challenges; redeem check-ins for Maine Oyster Trail rewards and swag.”

AQUACULTURE IN MAINE 2021

Bangor Daily News, 8/24/21 – “As the entire country struggles to recover from the economic downturn caused by COVID 19, one industry that’s still flourishing is the seafood industry. Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association Sebastian Belle reports that the demand for fresh, high quality seafood has skyrocketed in the past year. ‘When the restaurant sector shut down [due to the pandemic], one of the biggest surprises to us, who are in this sector, is that retail sales of seafood went off the charts.’ Belle said. According to Belle, retail sales of seafood increased by roughly 30-40 percent in the past year.”

YOUR LOVE FOR FRESH OYSTERS CAN HELP THE PLANET

National Geographic Travel, 7/26/21 – “Oyster farm tours, like this one led by Love Point Oysters, and self-guided bi-valve trails are cropping up throughout the United States. COVID-19 stalled the trend but with travel restrictions loosening, oyster enthusiasts are once again back on track. Along the Maine Oyster Trail, which re-launched in June, tasting tourists can earn swag by “checking in” at various experiences and sites along the trail, including Love Point. Other trails can be found in Louisiana, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, the country’s largest producer of aquaculture.”

DOCK & DINE SEASON 2, EPISODE 4, featuring the maine oyster trail & others

Maine Life Media, 7/5/21 – “Paul’s Marina & Judy’s General Store, Seacoast Tours of Freeport, Maine Oyster Trail, Mere Point Oysters.” Check out the episode on YouTube. The oyster segment starts at minute 15:00

MAINE OYSTER TRAIL SHOWCASES STATE’S GROWING OYSTER INDUSTRY

WMTW 8, 6/14/21 – “A new website that launched on Monday is showcasing the state’s growing oyster industry. The Maine Oyster Trail takes oyster lovers from Ogunquit to Sorrento. Love Point Oysters is one of 150 oyster farms dotting the Maine coast and one of the dozens that are now part of the Maine Oyster Trail. ‘It takes roughly two years to get this oyster to market, so any opportunity we have to share two years of labor with somebody, we quite enjoy that,’ Love Point Oysters owner Ben Hamilton said. The idea for the oyster trail was born during the pandemic when oyster sales to restaurants plummeted.”

ON THE RECORD WITH SEBASTIAN BELLE OF THE MAINE AQUACULTURE ASSOCIATION

The Working Waterfront, 5/5/21 – “When it comes to aquaculture, it would be hard to top Sebastian Belle’s resumé. Belle, 62, earned a degree in fisheries and wildlife at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, fished offshore for a time, then moved to Europe. ‘I was able to get a job in Norway on an aquaculture farm,’ he recalls. ‘I happened to be in the right place at the right time. That was in the very early days of the salmon industry, and they were making a lot of money and investing it all around the world, and they sent me all around the world, building projects,’ raising salmon, shrimp, trout, and scallops. Belle returned to Maine and moved to Eastport, where he managed a series of salmon farms for five years, then worked at Boston’s New England Aquarium for five years in research and development for farming bluefin tuna. Then it was back overseas to build tuna farms in Spain, France, Mexico, and Australia.”