The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) has announced the launch of a new online portal, “The Maine Aquaculturist,” designed to help aquaculture operations in the U.S. state of Maine access resources in the state.
The new portal was created in response to the growing number of aquaculture operations that are either already in business or are planning to establish locations in the state, according to GMRI. In the past few years, companies including Whole Oceans, Nordic Aquafarms, The Kingfish Company, Aquabanq, and American Aquafarms have all announced proposals for either land-based or net-pen aquaculture operations in various locations throughout the state. Those primarily finfish operations are additions onto the existing – and growing – shellfish aquaculture operations in the state, farming oysters in locations up and down the coast.
Those aquaculture operations aren’t including the additional support systems, GMRI said, such as state agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, trade groups, and more that all contribute to the overall aquaculture industry in Maine. With so much information, “it can be difficult for farmers to find the information quickly amid all the other demands of their businesses,” GMRI said.
“The Maine Aquaculturist addresses this challenge by centralizing and organizing these resources to help farmers find the information they need to build and sustain their businesses,” GMRI said in a press release.
The new portal has guides on financing options, an “Essential Start Guide” for those looking to start new operations, resource databases for established farms, job boards, and even a regulatory update tracker for aquaculturists to keep track of legislation.
“This website delivers tremendous value to anyone starting out in aquaculture, as well as folks who are already in the game who need to find resources,” Ben Hamilton, the co-owner of Harpswell,Maine-based Love Point Oysters, said. “I am so thoroughly impressed, and I hope it serves as a catalyst for continued aquaculture growth in Maine.”
The new website was designed in partnership with the Maine Aquaculture Association, with a sponsorship from FocusMaine.
“The portal is an important new resource for Maine’s growing aquaculture community," Maine Aquaculture Association Executive Director Sebastian Belle said.
The portal is designed to fill a “gap in industry support” that aquaculture operations in the state have identified, according to GMRI. Working sessions with aquaculturists in Maine drove the development of the new platform, the institute said.
“Nobody knows sea farming better than the sea farmers themselves,” Gulf of Maine Research Institute Aquaculture Program Manager Chris Vonderweidt, who led the project team responsible for building the platform, said. “Ultimately, we just wanted to create a space for Maine’s thriving community of aquaculture businesses to share, learn, and grow with each other.”