Community Kick-off

About 25 community members (adults and kids!) came to the “What’s up with Aquaculture?” info session on Tuesday, March 8.  The event was held in the Long Island Learning Center Multi-Purpose room.  Refreshments included pizza from Flatbread and seaweed salad made by Paul Dobbins’ company Ocean Approved.

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We started off with updates from Island Institute and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership about their involvement in aquaculture.  Yvonne Thomas, Education Director, and James Crimp, Marine Economic Development Associate, gave an overview of the Island Institute’s three-pronged approach to aquaculture.  The focus areas of this approach are science, education, and economic development.

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Curtis Bohlen, Director of the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, said that he was excited to hear from community members and speakers and think about how aquaculture fits into CBEP’s new strategic plan.

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Nate Johnson, native Long Islander and member of the Island Institute Aquaculture Business Development Program, gave an update on the aquaculture lease he has applied for near Little Chebeague.  He also talked about the Department of Marine Resources shellfish zones and suggested that they may not be a comprehensive representation of water quality in an area.

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Paul Dobbins, President of Ocean Approved, gave a presentation on the kelp aquaculture industry.  He talked about the market for kelp, the high value of the Maine brand, and the production and marketing processes for seaweed.  He explained that kelp may actually help to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification because it absorbs carbon dioxide from the ocean through photosynthesis.

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Paul did a fun experiment where he showed the kids in the audience how kelp changes color when it is dipped in hot water!

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A question and answer session concluded the event.  There were questions about how seaweed is processed and what ecological impacts seaweed farming has, among other things.

If you were unable to attend the event, or just want a refresher, we will be posting some video footage of the evening soon!

Many thanks to our sponsors, including Island Institute, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Ocean Approved, University of Maine’s SEANET, Long Island Elementary School, and Long Island Recreation Program, who made this event possible!

(The fun continued after the main event.  Everyone wanted to try dipping kelp in hot water!)

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