Aquaculture North America

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Rosy outlook for Maine’s farmed shellfish industry


December 23, 2016
By Linda Hiemstra
Mussels and scallops show the most promise


Maine’s shellfish farmers have the potential to quadruple their revenues to more than $30 million by 2030, according to a new report from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI).

The report, The Farmed Shellfish Market Analysis, prepared by the Hale Group consultancy for GMRI, said that Maine is uniquely positioned to leverage and expand its aquaculture industry and capture a greater share of the shellfish market because of its high-quality products, the availability of space for aquaculture expansion, the strong consumer brand affinity to Maine products, and Maine’s strategic location near distribution centers, among others.

In 2015, the state produced $24 million worth of oysters, mussels and scallops, accounting for 4 percent of the $700 million wild and farmed national market. Maine’s aquaculture industry accounts only for approximately 1 percent of this total shellfish production, delivering approximately $6.5 million in landed value to Maine’s economy, GMRI said.

Mussels and scallops show the most promise, according to the market analysis. To realize the potential for expansion and capturing a bigger market, Maine needs to expand its geographic coverage, build brand equity to support Maine’s high quality positioning and price premium, make aquaculture operations more efficient and make investments that would enable winter harvesting of oysters.

“Our goal is to support aspiring farmers entering the industry, help farmers grow their businesses responsibly, help the business community understand the aquaculture investment opportunity, and help diversify and grow the industry as a whole,” GMRI President & CEO Don Perkins wrote on his blog on GMRI.org in November. A healthy and robust aquaculture industry needs to include a variety of businesses, large and small, supporting each other with diverse knowledge, products, and services.”

“Over time, we will also support the success of aquaculture with targeted research, particularly related to understanding the impact of climate change, and education initiatives,” he added.