By Penelope Overton / Portland Press Herald
A Casco Bay company that bills itself as the country’s first open-water commercial kelp farm got state approval Friday to convert a temporary seaweed plot off Chebeague Island into a 10-year lease, giving it the financial and regulatory certainty it needs to support the expansion of its Saco processing operation.
Ocean Approved President Paul Dobbins stated that the company isn’t actively looking for more cultivation sites, but is instead helping others to expand kelp production to help fill supply needs and bolster the state’s burgeoning aquaculture industry. The company has gone so far as to put a kelp growing manual on its website to encourage more seaweed farms. Its investors include Coastal Enterprises Inc., Island Institute and Maine Venture Fund.