Lowly Rockweed Swims to Top Of Controversial Maine Fisheries



ORONO — It isn’t nearly as large as the lobster fishery, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars for Maine’s economy, or the salmon farming industry worth tens of millions, but Maine’s rockweed harvest is generating interest and controversy far out of proportion to its mere dollar value.

 

Rockweed may not look like much, but in 2008 harvesters cut nearly 12 million pounds from Maine rocks and tidal flat — a practice that worries some conservationists and angers many owners of shorefront property. — LARRY PETERSON
Rockweed may not look like much, but in 2008 harvesters cut nearly 12 million pounds from Maine rocks and tidal flat — a practice that worries some conservationists and angers many owners of shorefront property. — LARRY PETERSON

For as long as anyone can remember, harvesters have worked along the shore gathering seaweed of various species such as kelp, bladder wrack and wormweed for a variety of uses. The largest harvest by far is of rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), those long, succulent tendrils of greenery that cling to rocks and ledges close to shore and often exposed at low tide. In 2008, the last year for which the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has statistics, harvesters reported cutting some 11.7 million pounds of rockweed worth about $234,000 from Maine waters, much of it from Cobscook Bay.

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

 

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