Preparing to Farm Seaweed in Maine

Introduction

Preparing to farm seaweed is not a process that happens overnight– first potential farmers need to take into account multiple factors including: 

  • What type of seaweed are you going to grow?
  • What are the ecological needs of this seaweed species? 
  • Where do you plan to establish the farm? 
  • Is your farm site appropriate for cultivating your seaweed of choice? 
  • What is your farm going to look like? 
  • How are you going to get the seaweed to start your farm?
  • And what will you do with your seaweed once it is harvested? 

In this unit, we start by considering important biological, environmental, social, and economic factors for selecting a seaweed species and farm site in Maine. This context behind species and site selection are key pieces of information for people aspiring to be successful seaweed farmers. While some things may seem obvious– like choosing to farm a seaweed that people have already developed cultivation strategies/technologies for– being able to justify your decision making around species and site selection can help you during the lease application process or when explaining your business to people outside the aquaculture industry. 

Once we’ve established an understanding of which seaweed you’re cultivating and where you’re growing it, we’ll dive into the next order of business: figuring out how to get the seaweed ‘seed’Juvenile seaweed sporophytes. for your farm. At this point, we’ll explore seaweed reproduction and why juvenile seaweeds tend to be grown in laboratory (or nursery) settings. Then we’ll get an overview of what actually happens in a sugar kelp seaweed nursery. 

Image credit: BBC

NOTE: Before we get too ‘in the weeds,’ you should understand that the modules on this website are learning resources, NOT manuals; by the end of this unit you’ll know a lot more about what goes into growing seaweed in the nursery, but you would still need additional guidance and technical skills to successfully grow juvenile seaweed yourself.