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Law Court Decision Holds Right to Harvest Rockweed Belongs to Owners of Intertidal Land, Acadian Seaplants Concerned about Impact of Decision on Seaweed Industry; Maine Economy


Portland, Maine – Today the Maine Law Court found against defendant Acadian Seaplants Limited, holding that rockweed, and the right to harvest it, belongs to the owners of the intertidal land.

“This is an extremely unfortunate decision for an entire industry and for Maine’s economy,” said Acadian President, Jean-Paul Deveau. “The sustainable harvesting of rockweed has created jobs and grown businesses, all of which are creating sustainable and environmentally friendly products.”

Despite the decision, Acadian Seaplants intends to maintain its operations in Maine, where it has grown its operations over the past 20 years to include 5 full time employees, upwards of 30 seasonal hand harvesters and two year-round mechanical harvesters. Most of Acadian Seaplant’s operations are in Washington County; Maine’s poorest county. In 2018, Acadian invested heavily in Maine including $580,000 on operations; $400,000 on trucking and transportation and $100,000 in capital investments.

“We’re incredibly vested in the communities we harvest in,” added Deveau, “we’ve developed positive working relationships with all our partners in Maine – from Whitney’s in Machias, which does all our engine repair, to Look Lobster who handles our trucking, to Billings Marine in Stonington.” In 2018, and again in early 2019, Acadian donated $2,500 to three high schools in areas it harvests (Shead High School in Eastport; Machias High School in Machias, Jonesport-Beals High School in Jonesport) for a total donation of $15,000 over two years. As part of this program, high school students conducted experiments with Acadian Seaplants’ products, testing rockweed-based biostimulants on mung beans.

Moving forward, Acadian Seaplants will seek permission from landowners to harvest rockweed where required. “We have been part of Maine’s working waterfront for many years,” said Deveau. “We intend to continue to work in these communities, support local causes and invest in the local economy.”


Acadian Seaplants Limited is a fully-integrated, research-driven biotech manufacturer of unique cultivated sea-vegetables; and animal feed supplements, crop biostimulants and nutritional products derived from Ascophyllum nodosum (“rockweed”). Acadian has 400 employees worldwide in 12 countries, 35 researchers on staff and a dozen Ph.D. scientists to do R&D on marine plants from resource management to manufacturing of products. In Maine, Acadian Seaplants employs five people full-time and has more than 30 rockweed harvesters working along the Downeast coast, some who harvest year round, primarily in Washington County. Last year, Acadian invested heavily in Maine including $580,000 on operations; $400,000 on trucking and transportation and $100,000 in capital investments.

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Resource Biologist – Managing the Ascophyllum nodosum


If you read our last post you know Acadian Seaplants has a resource biologist here in Maine (that’s me!). My job, as part of our resource science team, is making sure that we are managing the Ascophyllum nodosum (rockweed) sustainably. You’ve probably heard us say that we harvest 17% of the biomass, but what does this mean? And how do we calculate it? Well, that’s where I come in!

To determine 17% of the harvestable biomass we first need to determine the total biomass in an area. We do this through a combination of satellite imagery and ground truthing techniques. Using GIS software, we can use satellite imagery to calculate the area of rockweed within a harvesting location. We then visit the rockweed beds and conduct transects (lots and lots of transects!) to determine the biomass that can be harvested. During our visits to the rockweed beds we can also determine what beds cannot be harvested because of gear limitations, safety or economic reasons – if a bed cannot be harvested it is excluded from our calculations. Using the area and measured biomass we can calculate the total harvestable biomass within each harvesting location and we harvest up to 17% of that biomass annually.

I have a lot of area to cover this summer and will be getting started on the first of many transects as soon as the rockweed has shed its reproductive receptacles, which occurs between mid-May and early June. Luckily, I will have some help! Our summer field assistant is a recent graduate of Unity College and will be joining our Maine team for the summer. So if you see us out walking on the seaweed beds (just like my parents always warned me not to do – they were right, it is SLIPPERY) – come say hi, or shout hello from the safety of dry ground!

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