Highlights from 30+ Years of Maine Sea Grant’s Work in Aquaculture
The history of Maine Sea Grant and the history of marine aquaculture in Maine are intertwined, beginning with the first $100,300 Sea Grant awarded by the federal government in 1971 to the University of Maine to adapt existing aquaculture techniques and to develop new ways to grow shellfish in Maine’s unique, cold-water coastal environment.
Before then, aquaculture in Maine consisted of limited efforts by the state Department of Sea and Shore Fisheries and federal Bureau of Commercial Fisheries to introduce European oysters to midcoast Maine (in 1949) and develop a soft-shell clam spawning program (in 1964). The infusion of Sea Grant funds supported the seawater system in the new 3,500-square-foot hatchery at the Darling Marine Center, and allowed researchers to begin experimenting with ways to grow shellfish to supplement wild stocks that had been depleted by overharvesting and pollution.
Since that first investment almost 40 years ago, aquaculture in Maine has expanded and grown in parallel with the Sea Grant Program, which continues to support aquaculture-related research and extension to shellfish growers and salmon farms throughout the state.