As part of our new strategic plan, aquaculture has emerged as an opportunity for us to accelerate the growth of a diverse seafood economy. Our progress this year centers on fruitful partnerships, increased capacity, and local impact.
GMRI is one of two “backbone” organizations for the FocusMaine aquaculture job creation initiative, which uses a fact-based, disciplined approach to industry development. 2017 marked the transition from strategic planning to the implementation phase, as GMRI and its partners — the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) and FocusMaine — secured funding for a suite of initiatives designed to:
- facilitate growth of small aquaculture businesses,
- unlock access to capital, and
- develop internationally competitive in-state recruitment capacity.
We also partnered with the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs (MCE) and MAA to create a prototype aquaculture entrepreneur development program, building from MCE’s established Top Gun business accelerator program. The team worked together to tailor the existing Top Gun program, secure high-level seafood and business professionals as speakers, and recruit businesses. Aquaculture Top Gun 2018 includes 11 businesses representing early- and mid-stage oyster, mussel, and scallop producers and seafood distribution companies.
In addition to our many partnerships, we’ve also grown our team internally. Julia Maine joined us this year to become our new Aquaculture Project Manager.
Julia comes to GMRI having graduated from Bowdoin College, interned on two sea farms, and organized the Chebeague Island aquaculture festival. Her familiarity with Maine’s aquaculture sector helped her hit the ground running in this new position. Get to know Julia.
Portland Street Pier
This year, we also partnered with the City of South Portland to develop a master plan for the Portland Street Pier, located between the Sunset Grill and pipeline oil tanks in the Ferry Village Neighborhood. Early on, South Portland City Council and staff recognized the pier’s immense potential value for local aquaculture and commercial fishing industries, and set out to develop a long-term vision, or “master plan.”
Early in the year, our aquaculture team helped City staff secure a grant to hire an engineering firm. The engineering firm’s role is to assess the pier condition, develop three alternative designs, and determine the economic viability of the designs.
Meanwhile, our aquaculture team is conducting a comprehensive needs assessment of working waterfront infrastructure and services that would be most useful to local aquaculture farmers and commercial fishermen.
"GMRI has the expertise, relationships, and credibility to engage stakeholders and understand market needs,” said South Portland Assistant City Manager Josh Reny, “We greatly appreciate their support on this project.”
In January, CEO and President Don Perkins joined Maine Public Radio’s Maine Calling to discuss the opportunity this industry provides. Hear more about our aquaculture perspective from Don.
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