Chebeague Island shoreline attracts new grower of seaweed

Posted 2016-12-28

By Edward D. Murphy / Portland Press Herald

The waters off Chebeague Island will be even greener than usual this winter.

Shearwater Ventures is moving in, joining another company, Portland-based Ocean Approved, in growing and harvesting seaweed in Casco Bay.

Nathan Johnson, who started Shearwater last year, just signed a state lease on nearly 4 acres of seabed. Johnson intends to grow sugar kelp, his foray into the $5 billion worldwide kelp industry.

Johnson, whose family has deep roots in the fishing industry in Maine, said he’s especially pleased that kelp farming can be done with little or no disturbance to other fisheries along the Maine coast.

“It’s going to be exciting to see the different ways the coastal economy can grow,” said Johnson, who lives on nearby Long Island and also works for Ocean Renewable Power Co. He also is a member of the board of trustees at the Island Institute.