Skip to Content

Kelp farming off Maine waters could help to contribute to environmental sustainability

<i>WMTW via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Maine leads the nation in seaweed farming.
WMTW via CNN Newsource
Maine leads the nation in seaweed farming.

By Andrew Clark

Click here for updates on this story

    SAINT GEORGE, Maine (WMTW) — Maine leads the nation in seaweed farming.

Kelp farms are located across several areas off Maine’s coast, including Casco Bay and the Midcoast.

Keith Miller of South Thomaston is a pioneer in kelp farming. He’s been fishing for decades and operates several kelp farms. He grows, harvests, and then sells his kelp to the seaweed farming company Atlantic Sea Farms, based in Biddeford.

Kelp is a winter crop, which means it grows best between November and April. Miller and his crew have another week or so to harvest the crop before it’s time to get ready for lobstering season.

Kelp gives fishermen the opportunity to stay out on the water year-round when they might not have been able to otherwise. As a bonus, many fishermen already have the gear needed to grow and harvest kelp.

“With regards to what you’re fishing, diversity is definitely an avenue towards sustainability because it gives you the ability to stay on the water and do what you love and also have it be economically viable in different seasons,” Maya Pelletier of the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center said.

Miller says on a recent trip he harvested about 5,000 pounds of kelp and sold it for 70 cents per pound. He says kelp farming is a more sustainable industry than something like lobstering, where the market prices fluctuate.

“Aquaculture is kind of taking the place of the old fisheries in that diversification and safety net of being able to have an alternative mode of income,” Olivia Richards, community development officer for Island Institute, said.

Studies have shown the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than almost any other ocean surface on the planet, but fishermen say the ocean has been colder this year than in years past, which in turn has helped this year’s kelp crop.

“Right around where kelp grows, the ocean acidification levels are less acidic and acidic ocean waters are harmful for shell growth and shell stability for shellfish,” Richards said. “So, growing kelp next to mussels, they’ve actually seen stronger shells and for the ability for mussels to grow their shells more quickly.”

“We do not need to feed it,” Pelletier said. “It’s able to help regulate some of the natural systems, like how much nitrogen and carbon dioxide are in the water. Then it produces these gorgeous plant-like organisms at the end.”

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KION 46 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content