New Ten-year Roadmap Released as Guide to Future of Maine’s Aquaculture Sector

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On behalf of the Maine Aquaculture Hub, Maine Sea Grant and the Maine Aquaculture Association today released The Maine Aquaculture Roadmap, 2022-2032, a ten-year plan that proposes four major goals and identifies over $15 million in estimated resources needed to strengthen Maine’s aquaculture sector and working waterfronts over the next decade.

Circles of different sizes representing the number of times a topic arose in focus groups.

“After two years of community work, we are pleased to share The Roadmap which summarizes the perspectives of diverse stakeholder groups and outlines their vision for the future of aquaculture in Maine,” said Sebastian Belle, Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

On behalf of the Maine Aquaculture Hub, Maine Sea Grant and the Maine Aquaculture Association today released The Maine Aquaculture Roadmap, 2022-2032, a ten-year plan that proposes four major goals and identifies over $15 million in estimated resources needed to strengthen Maine’s aquaculture sector and working waterfronts over the next decade.

Maine’s aquaculture sector has been steadily growing in recent years, and its total economic impact has nearly tripled - from $50 million in 2007 to $137 million in 2014 - according to the latest Maine Aquaculture Economic Impact Report. Sustainable aquaculture has tremendous potential to bolster our coastal economy, providing good jobs, local food security, and diversification opportunities for working waterfront families.

“Our aquaculture industry is a vital and growing part of our state’s coastal economy, supporting millions of dollars of economic value and thousands of jobs from Eastport to York,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. “The Roadmap will provide critically important guidance for an industry that represents a key to the future prosperity of Maine’s coastal communities.”

The Roadmap was developed with feedback from approximately 150 stakeholders representing nearly 100 different organizations and companies operating in Maine’s marine economy.

“As we deal with climate-driven change to wild-caught fisheries, Maine’s aquaculture industry is crucial to the resilience of our coastal economy,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “There is great opportunity for continued development in this industry, and The Roadmap will ensure that its growth is guided by expertise, insight and ideas from the wide array of stakeholders.”

Four goals are outlined in The Roadmap:

1. Develop a streamlined licensing and permitting process that balances the rights of an applicant and the public

2. Increase integration and understanding of aquaculture in Maine’s coastal communities

3. Expand and promote the Maine seafood brand

4. Make Maine a leader in triple bottom line sustainable aquaculture: social, economic, environmental

Each goal includes specific action items, which detail suggested organizations to undertake the actions and estimated funds required to accomplish them. Together, the 23 action items request over $15 million and require support from 24 full-time employees over the next ten years.

“After two years of community work, we are pleased to share The Roadmap which summarizes the perspectives of diverse stakeholder groups and outlines their vision for the future of aquaculture in Maine,” said Sebastian Belle, Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

“The Roadmap means a lot to my family because it provides a framework for aquaculture for generations to come. 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, shellfish farmer and owner of Acadia Aqua Farms in Bar Harbor.

“This Roadmap will help guide the next decade of sustainable aquaculture development in Maine, focusing on both use and conservation of coastal resources in order to sustain thriving coastal communities and ecosystems,” said Gayle Zydlewski, Director of Maine Sea Grant. “The Roadmap also complements economic development initiatives in the state, giving us one more tool to help collectively prepare for a sustainable future.”

The report was developed by the Maine Aquaculture Hub, a network of organizations that includes Maine Sea Grant, the Maine Aquaculture Association, the University of Maine Aquaculture Research Institute, the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. and is designed to complement the Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029; Maine Won’t Wait, A Four-Year Plan for Climate Action; the Seafood Economic Accelerator for Maine (SEAMaine); and other statewide planning initiatives. At the time of this report’s publication, implementation of several action items are already underway. The full Roadmap can be viewed online here.

About Maine Sea Grant
Maine Sea Grant (MSG) is a federal-state partnership program based at the University of Maine and one of 34 NOAA Sea Grant programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states. MSG receives funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is matched by the state of Maine and other non-federal sources. Since 1971, MSG has promoted science and education for the sustainable development, management, and stewardship of Maine’s marine and coastal resources. MSG continues this mission today by supporting marine and coastal research, education, and outreach via a marine extension team with individuals located in coastal communities from Wells to Eastport.

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About the Maine Aquaculture Association
The Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) est. 1978, is a nonprofit trade association that advocates for Maine’s finfish, shellfish, and sea vegetable farmers. MAA’s mission is to support the state’s aquatic growers in developing economically and environmentally sustainable business practices, to promote the benefits of aquaculture in the local food system, and to preserve Maine’s heritage of a vibrant working waterfront.

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