HALLOWELL, Maine — A group of aquaculture organizations in Maine opened registration for a training program designed for fishermen to learn how to farm seafood. Maine’s vibrant working waterfront, including aquaculture, builds resilience for generations of Maine’s fishing families, who have long navigated the waters to feed our community. Hosted by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA), Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center (MAIC), and Maine Sea Grant (MSG), the Aquaculture in Shared Waters training program focuses on the cultivation of commercially valuable species including oysters, mussels, scallops, and kelp. Students learn from leading industry, regulatory, and scientific experts on fundamental topics like site selection, permitting, animal husbandry, equipment, business planning, financing, marketing, community relations, and more.
“For the past ten years, the Aquaculture in Shared Waters course has served as a vital tool to help fishermen learn to farm the sea, diversify their income, and pioneer a new industry on Maine’s working waterfront,” said Sebastian Belle, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association. Since the program began in 2013, over 400 students have completed the course, 30 new aquaculture businesses have been established, and 60 have been expanded or retained through economic diversification.
“Having fished in Penobscot Bay and Southeast Alaska for many years, this training course was a great fit for me, and I’m now in the early stages of starting a scallop farm,” said Michael Scott, Isle au Haut. The Shared Waters program received national recognition in 2020 as the recipient of the Superior Outreach Programming Award from the National Sea Grant Program.
The 2023 course will begin on January 3rd and will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm each week for 14 sessions, concluding in early April with optional field trip opportunities in the spring. The course will be offered in-person at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast with an option to join virtually. The course is free of charge and applications are open to all based in Maine. The 2023 course is made possible with funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, administered through the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Applications will be accepted at http://www.aquacultureinsharedwaters.org/ until December 1st, 2022.
About Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 community development financial institution (CDFI) founded in 1977 with a mission to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine and rural regions throughout the U.S. One of the nation’s leading CDFIs for over 43 years, CEI has provided $1.46 billion in loans, equity and tax credit financing for 3,039 businesses and projects helping to build livelihoods, wealth and a more equitable, sustainable economy.
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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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About the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center
The Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center (MAIC) was established in 1988 by the Maine Legislature with a mission to assist in developing economically and environmentally sustainable aquaculture opportunities in Maine. MAIC sponsors and facilitates innovative research and development projects involving food, pharmaceuticals, and other products from sustainable aquatic systems; invests in the enhancement of aquaculture capacity in Maine; serves as a source of educational information to enhance public visibility and acceptance of aquaculture; and encourages strategic alliances tasked with promoting research, technology transfer, and the commercialization of aquaculture research.
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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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–Maine Aquaculture Association