New report: Aquaculture in Maine can grow with focus on scallops, mussels

Published on
October 28, 2016

A new report commissioned by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute shows future opportunity abounds for Maine’s aquaculture industry.

Mussels, scallops and oysters represent the most promising opportunities for growth of the aquaculture sector in Maine, according to the report, which looked at production and economic data and also took into account the perspectives of active farmers, leading consultants, trade groups and others.

“This report is an important tool that will help our growers and investors understand the market dynamics their businesses will likely face in the years to come,” Maine Aquaculture Association Executive Director Sebastian Belle said.

Currently, Maine shellfish aquaculture delivers about USD 6.5 million (EUR 6 million) in landed value to Maine’s economy, but the report indicates an opportunity to grow the landed value of Maine farmed shellfish to more than USD 30 million (EUR 27.5 million) by 2030.

“If we’re going to support an industry, it’s critical to understand its current and potential value,” GMRI President and CEO Don Perkins said. “To achieve scalable growth, we needed to ask how much new production this industry could absorb.”

The report, which was put together by The Hale Group, found the following competitive advantages for Maine aquaculture:

  • Maine’s clean, cold-water growing environment produces a top-quality product that commands a premium.
  • Growth can occur without compromising existing marine uses; utilization of Maine’s coastline for aquaculture would take up less than one percent of available marine space.
  • Maine farmers have ideal proximity to large markets including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Toronto and Montreal.

The report provides several recommendations to grow the state’s aquaculture industry, including the expansion of geographic coverage, building better brand equity, pursuing operational efficiencies and investing in winter harvesting capabilities for oysters.

“The market analysis for farmed shellfish establishes a convincing case for prolonged increase in demand, increase in prices, and for the branding that must underpin any expectation of moderate to rapid growth for production of farmed oysters, mussels and sea scallops in Maine,” Dick Clime, a project developer at Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a developer and funder of rural business. “This report should be read by aquaculture entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and regulators to validate the investment, public and private, that will spur expansion of this working waterfront industry.”

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