Posted by: Archipelago Law in Environmental, Local Food Economy on June 2, 2023

Published January 6, 2023 in the PORTLAND PRESS HERALD

Regarding the recent story on kelp (“Kelp dryer could allow Maine seaweed farms to triple output,” May 15):

Although perhaps controversy makes for more interesting reading, I do not agree that there is meaningful division in Maine’s seaweed industry about growth. The new kelp dryer, which will be made available to multiple businesses and farmers, illustrates that, rather than divided, the seaweed industry is collaborative and shares innovation.

The feared irresponsible corporate mega-farms that animate growth opponents (mostly partisans from away) have not yet materialized here. Unless and until they do, we should be bullish about seaweed. To date, Maine’s regulatory framework, administered by the Department of Marine Resources, has effectively protected the marine environment while permitting responsible aquaculture activities. Maine is already the leading state in seaweed farming. Projected annual growth and greater market share should excite those who view the success of our fishery as success for all Mainers.

Large-scale aquaculture farms are not categorically harmful. We should be evaluating any project based on facts and data rather than “big” or “small.” A small, local food economy is beautiful but plainly will not feed the world’s population into the next century. With recent 80% cuts to the haddock quota and legal and political battles around the right whale and offshore renewable energy, a diverse, dynamic and data-driven fishery will best position Maine not only to be resilient and sustainable, but also to be a global Blue Economy leader.

Keith Richard, Esq.
Archipelago Law