Researchers Hold Workshop in Belfast on Growing Seaweed Industry 

You may not realize it, but seaweed isn’t just green stuff that washes up from the ocean.It’s a natural substance that’s used in many every day products. During a workshop at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, researchers got a chance to share the importance of seaweed, as well as how harvesting it is gaining more attention.”Seaweed is relatively new as far as like a cultured product goes. There have been a lot of harvesters that have been around for 20, 30 years but the interest seems high because there’s a bit more notoriety,” said David Morse, an extension associate with the Maine Sea Grant Program.Researchers want to help those in the industry get the most out of the growing market.”Part of what we’re engaged in in our research is to figure out for a grower, what does that mean in terms of dollars and cents? How profitable can this be,” said Morse.”This is an untapped opportunity for people here in this region to potentially look at another source of income,” said Charlie Yarish, a marine biology professor at the University of Connecticut.Researchers feel Maine has all the right parts in the seaweed and kelp industry.Take the fishing industry, add the country’s first commercial seaweed processing plant that’s recently opened in Rockland, factor in location, and Maine is a prime spot for the industry to really take off.”Using the pristine waters that are regularly monitored by our coastal managers in the northeast we could produce a premium product to the marketplace,” said Yarish.”We have the infrastructure. We have the people and the expertise and we certainly have the working knowledge on the working waterfront that we have and we have the environment for growing macro algae for sure,” said Morse.