Guest blog post by Research Assistant Bailey Moritz
It’s that time of year again, when people from all facets of the Maine fisheries community come together under the Samoset Resort roof in Rockland to make connections, share ideas, and discuss solutions. The place was bustling when I arrived at the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum in early March, with pockets of small groups greeting old friends and introducing new ones. There are rooms of trade show exhibits and informational tables from groups working up and down the coastal waters. Hurricane Island had a booth and we spoke to potential students about the opportunities out on the island and the role the organizations research plays in the local fishery scene.
I picked up a booklet on seaweed species and took a seat at the first talk, titled Maine’s Scallop Fishery: An Overview and Open Discussion. After recent data was presented on progress towards rebuilding the fishery, a lively conversation began between policy makers and fishermen regarding catch limits and decisions surrounding closures. I knew Maine scallops were good, but I learned that they are considered some of the best in the world and therefore bring in top dollar. It’s an important fishery to keep an eye on, and another seminar delved into the growing potential for scallop aquaculture throughout the state. This was exciting to hear about, as we have been working on the first steps for setting up scallop aquaculture out on Hurricane.
Aquaculture was a clear theme. Emphasis was placed on diversifying fishermen’s on the water income and learning how to switch to or incorporate aquaculture into your business- in one panel, a new oyster farmer gave his account of the transition, while we later heard from a harvester trying out the first clam farming plots in the state in Georgetown. Read about another recent oyster farm here! There is so much excitement surrounding the potential that aquaculture holds in local waters. Of course, the day would not be complete without consuming some seafood ourselves; we all take a break for a fried halibut sandwich and soak in the atmosphere that’s created when you put a ton of people thinking hard about Maine fisheries in one room.