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.