ELLSWORTH — Commercial fishermen and fishing families looking to diversify their incomes may want to look in on an aquaculture training course jointly offered by the University of Maine Sea Grant and Cooperative Extension, the Maine Aquaculture Association, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center.
According to Dana Morse of the UM Cooperative Extension, small-scale shellfish and seaweed aquaculture offer an opportunity for Maine fishermen and other coastal residents to continue to work on the water and maintain a livelihood while producing quality local seafood.
“We’re trying to deliver some pretty good background to new prospective growers,” Morse said last week.
An introductory meeting describing the program is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bryant E. Moore Center in Ellsworth. Program coordinators and instructors will review the curriculum and benefits to participants, including technical information needed to run a successful aquaculture operation.
“It’s really about network building,” Morse said.
This is the fifth time the consortium will offer its Aquaculture in Shared Waters program. In past years, the program has been held in Thomaston and Harpswell on the Midcoast and in Corea Down East.
Topics to be covered will include site selection, equipment and husbandry methods, and regulatory and permitting issues. The curriculum also deals with farm operations, marketing — including working with the tourism and culinary industries — and business and financial management.
“The focus is bivalve shellfish and seaweed,” Morse said. “We will be talking about scallops, for sure.”
Potential aquaculturists are encouraged to attend the informational meeting to learn more about the program and how they may enroll. The program is being offered without charge. At the least, Morse said, those who attend will come away with “some nice, light bedtime reading” about aquaculture and the program.
The Aquaculture in Shared Waters initiative began in 2013 with funding from NOAA Sea Grant and is coordinated by Maine Sea Grant and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
The name “Aquaculture in Shared Waters” reflects the fact that aquaculture is just one of the many uses of Maine’s coastal waters and that the best results are achieved when sites are chosen carefully and with consideration of local perspectives and conditions.