Maine Aquaculture Association launches video to boost state’s farmers

Published on
January 20, 2020

The Maine Aquaculture Association has kicked off a new video series focused on telling the personal stories of aquatic farmers throughout the state to increase public visibility and underscore how aquaculture complements existing marine industries in coastal communities.

The series, titled “The Faces of Maine’s Working Waterfront,” borrows a premise that has boded well for the state’s commercial fishing industry – interviewing industry members at work out on the water to give consumers an inside look at the trade. The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association has been producing a video series called “Hard Tellin’” for a couple years.

“People are looking for local, fresh, healthy seafood produced here in the state of Maine, so our challenge is to meet that demand,” Andrew Lively, director of public affairs at Cooke Aquaculture, said in a video focused on the company’s family-founded origins in Canada and operations in Maine.

In the video, Lively explains that Cooke Aquaculture is operating numerous locations previously occupied by the state’s herring fishery, which has declined in certain areas.

“I believe aquaculture is able to supplement the industries that are here and enhance some of the industries that are here. It has become part of the landscape here in Maine,” Lively said. “Aquaculture has been able to come into communities and change the economy … but it’s still a marine-based economy, a working waterfront economy.”

David Morang, a former lobsterman and current Cooke employee, explains how he left the fishing industry and wound up working at a mill before finding his way back to the water in the aquaculture business.

The series’ second installment highlights Marshall Cove Mussel Farm, a mussel farm on the northwest side of Islesboro, Maine. Lobsterman Josh Conover and his wife, Shey, operate the mussel farm that currently employs four to five workers year-round.

“It’s a clean, environmentally friendly occupation – it’s helping water quality, it’s not hurting it,” Josh said. “I think as long as people are good stewards of the industry and stick to the rigorous standards and, it will only help us.”

The farm supplies mussels to Maine restaurants, wholesalers in the state and is beginning to ship their product throughout New England.

“Aquaculture has been a new industry for Islesboro,” Shey said. “We’re very much still on the ramp-up side of things – out first year we harvested 700 pounds and our second year we harvested 7,000 pounds, and we're just now this year getting to the point where we’re harvesting 7,000 pounds a month.”

Afton Hupper, the MAA’s outreach & development specialist, told the Ellsworth American that production cost of the video program is “a moving target” and that the MAA is paying for them now “but also trying to raise some external funding.” 

Photo courtesy of the Maine Aquaculture Association

Reporting from Portland, Oregon

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