Buoy Maine

Buoy Maine Bar

BUOY MAINE: rising together during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

About Buoy Maine

Buoy Maine fosters innovation and entrepreneurship to support Maine’s working waterfront and coastal communities. This effort, designed in collaboration with concerned coastal community organizations, focuses on strengthening coastal/marine seafood and tourism related industries, highlighting the Maine Brand and experience, building resiliency, and helping Maine’s coastal businesses redefine operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maine Sea Grant hosted two lively and successful Buoy Maine pitch events on October 26 and 27. Participants enjoyed the competitive challenge of the pitch format and received constructive feedback from a panel of judges to further develop their ideas. The event has already catalyzed several new partnerships, and we hope to continue the networking and learning with our funded projects throughout the next steps of our process.

The Buoy Maine team is happy to report these pitch competition winners:

Exploring Rope-Grown Kelp as a Fertilizer Input

Award: $12,000
Organizer: C. Ballin, Atlantic Sea Farms
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Casey Ballin from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Casey Ballin, Atlantic Sea Farms. Click image to view pitch video.

This project aims to create a new Maine branded product, kelp fertilizer, that helps reduce waste from kelp farming by creating a value-added product from the kelp loss associated with harvest. With a new product to market, farmers (many of whom are lobstermen looking to supplement their income and diversify their business) will be able to grow more kelp and bring income to this sector after the loss of markets from COVID-19 that hit them hard. The project team will work with the University of Maine Soil Testing Lab to conduct micronutrient analysis and an independent company for expertise in fertilizers to develop digital assets to support the commercialization of the end products.

Marin Skincare: Value-Added Skincare Active Ingredient from Lobster Processors

Award: $14,000
Organizer: P. Breeding, Marin Skincare
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Patrick Breeding from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Patrick Breeding, Marin Skincare. Click image to view pitch.

Marin Skincare will work with lobster processors to increase the supply of glycoprotein, a compound found in lobsters that is used as an active skincare ingredient, to develop a line of four new skin care products. A major goal of this project is to refine the methods and protocols for glycoprotein extraction so they can be easily implemented across multiple lobster processors. Glycoprotein comes from an otherwise discarded part of the lobster, and an increase in demand for products that utilize the protein will create additional value that will broadly benefit the Maine lobster industry.

#EatMaineSeafood Campaign

Award: $12,000
Organizer: M. Coombs, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Togue Brawn from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Togue Brawn, Downeast Dayboat. Click image to view pitch.

Project partners will develop digital and social media assets to support the EatMaineSeafood hashtag, which showcases businesses from Maine that are selling local seafood and supporting Maine fishing families. Project funds will support website development and promotion by the project partners: Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Maine Aquaculture Association, Downeast Dayboat, and Aragosta Mama.

Lady Shuckers

Award: $14,000
Organizer: L. Davis, Lady Shuckers
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Libby Davis and Jacqueline Clarke from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Libby Davis & Jacqueline Clark. Click image to view pitch.

Lady Shuckers is a women-led, mobile raw bar, artisanal shop, and event-planning company focused on supporting and selling aquaculture products produced by female-owned sea farms throughout Maine. Funds will be used to build out a mobile raw bar, to develop the brand and create marketing materials, and to advance the visibility of women-owned businesses in Maine’s seafood industry.

Can it, Maine! Adding Value and Resilience to Maine’s Shellfish Seafood Sector

Award: $14,000
Organizer: M. Dwyer, University of Maine Aquaculture Research Institute
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Meggan Dwyer from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Meggan Dwyer, UMaine Aquaculture Research Institute. Click image to view pitch.

The University of Maine Aquaculture Research Institute, partners at the University’s Pilot Food Plant, and the A.M. Look Canning Company will develop processes for canning four species of Maine shellfish. These sample canning runs will be used for sensory analysis and market investigation to address the $40 million trade deficit in canned seafood and the growth in US canned seafood demand. This project aims to open up access to new markets by expanding the shelf life of shellfish, and was developed in response to industry needs during the pandemic.

Maine Oyster Trail

Award: $12,000
Organizer: A. Hupper, Maine Aquaculture Association
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Afton Hupper from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Afton Hupper, Maine Aquaculture Association. Click image to view pitch.

The Maine Aquaculture Association will advance the capacity of the Maine Oyster Trail by developing an interactive website and increasing the offerings through the Trail to include activities such as pop-up events, tours, and a ‘passport’ for Oyster Trail travelers. This project aims to elevate Maine’s oyster industry through marketing, which will benefit oyster farms throughout the state and pave the way for similar efforts for other harvested shellfish species. As a tourism-driven tool, the Trail also presents an opportunity for diversification in the oyster industry through integration with tourism.

Promoting Small/Family Oyster Farms Through Shared Marketing of Growing-Regions

Award: $12,000
Organizer: J. Kramer, Winnegance Oyster Farm
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Jordan Kramer from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Jordan Kramer, New Meadows River Shellfish Coop. Click image to view pitch.

Twelve oyster producers in the New Meadows River Shellfish Co-op will explore ways to collectively brand and promote the New Meadows River as a distinct growing area, and to support small, family-run oyster farms. Funds will be used to develop marketing materials and a shared strategy, and to create a template for use by other oyster producing regions in Maine. This project aims to develop a regional brand to help gain wider recognition in the market, similar to how wines market regional varieties of grapes.

Maine Seafood Discovery Tours

Award $14,000
Organizer: G. Latimer, Red Cloak Tours
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Greg Latimer and Sally Lobkowicz from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Greg Latimer & Sally Lobkowicz, Red Cloak Tours. Click image to view pitch.

Maine Seafood Discovery Tours will continue to develop a COVID-safe program for visitors to Damariscotta, focusing on the area’s oyster industry. These ‘TeleTours’ will allow visitors and tourists to have the Maine experience while staying safe during COVID-19. The approach to be developed in Damariscotta during this project will then serve as a model for other tourism businesses throughout Maine. Funding will support development time, operations, and website development.

Marketing Downeast Gold Mussels, a Unique Maine Brand

Award: $12,000
Organizer: K. Pepperman, Downeast Institute
>View the pitch

Screenshot of Kyle Pepperman and Evan Young from the Buoy Maine pitch competition
Kyle Pepperman, Downeast Insitute & Evan Young, Blue Hill Bay Mussels. Click image to view pitch.

The Downeast Institute and Blue Hill Bay Mussels have collaborated to produce hatchery-raised mussel seed that has a predominance of gold-colored shell. Funds will be used to help market the fully-grown product, to increase the brand recognition, and to diversify the mussel production opportunities for Maine farmers. This unique, speciality product will help growers command a higher price when market saturation is high, making businesses more diverse and resilient.

Damariscotta River Oysters: Maine Fresh Brand Development

Award: $12,000
Organizer: M. White, Mook Sea Farm
>View the pitch

still from a Buoy Maine competition pitch
M. White, Mook Sea Farm. Click image to view pitch.

Nine oyster farms on the Damariscotta River will work together toward advancing the brand of Damariscotta-grown oysters. Funds will be used to develop a website to highlight the products of the river, a logo, and promotional materials to bring the message to consumers. Developing a regional brand will help bring attention to the diverse tastes of oysters across Maine and will bring name recognition of products to a national level.

All awarded projects will showcase their progress in a public event in summer 2021 in a celebration of the accomplishments of all the awardees. This event will be open to the public and in person if possible, virtual if otherwise.

Judges for the Pitch Competition

  • Martha Bentley – Director, of Economic Development Coordination, Maine Dept. of Economic and Community Development
  • John Burns – Managing Director, Maine Venture Fund
  • Tony Cameron – Chief Executive Officer, Maine Tourism Association
  • Crystal Hitchings – Program Coordinator, Sunrise County Economic Council & DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism
  • Emily Lane – Blue Lobster Consulting, LLC


Email Natalie Springuel

Please note that email is the most reliable way to reach us at the moment, as we are mostly still working remotely due to COVID-19, but should contacting us by phone be more convenient for you, we will check messages regularly at (207) 288-2944 ext 5834, and call you back ASAP.


noaa logo Maine Sea Grant Independent Logo University of Maine logo
logo for maine technology institute logo for maine community foundation Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center logo
Bangor Savings Bank Logo


Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism
Island Institute
Maine Aquaculture Association
Maine Department of Economic & Community Development
Maine Department of Marine Resources
Maine Office of Tourism
Slow Money Maine
Sunrise County Economic Council
UMaine Office of Innovation and Economic Development