ROCKLAND — Have you ever thought about gaining a new source of income by growing mussels, oysters, or seaweed? Island Institute is now accepting applications for its 2020 Aquaculture Business Development (ABD) program and is looking to support coastal and island residents who are highly motivated to start shellfish or seaweed aquaculture businesses within the next two years.
To be considered for the program, those interested must submit a short, six-question application by March 13.
Aquaculture is a natural business expansion for those already working on the water, according to the Institute, in a news release. Along with the familiarity of working in a marine environment, lobstering and other commercial fishing trades already have the experience of operating a business. In addition, starting a complementary business can absorb the impacts of potential changes in the lobster industry. Studies indicate that Maine’s growth potential in aquaculture is substantial, highlighting that the Maine oyster industry could triple in size, and the mussel industry could grow six-fold, between 2015 and 2030. In addition, preliminary data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources indicate that farmed seaweed production grew five-fold in 2019.
“As the market continues to expand, there is tremendous opportunity in Maine’s aquaculture sector,” said Peter Piconi, marine business specialist with the Island Institute, in the release. “The ABD program gives participants both the academic and experiential learning tools to succeed in this burgeoning industry and allows fishing communities to diversify their income through seaweed and shellfish farming.”