Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy

  • Credit: Keri Kaczor
    Credit: Keri Kaczor
  • Credit: Downeast Institute
    Credit: Downeast Institute
  • Credit: Ready Seafood
    Credit: Ready Seafood
  • Credit: Carter Newell
    Credit: Carter Newell

How did the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy do the work? 

The Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy is a network of more than 20 Maine-based companies, organizations, and individuals committed to investing in Maine’s vibrant marine economy through a 10-year, $14 million initiative. The Alliance’s mission is to ensure that Maine seafood, fishing, and aquaculture industries, and the natural and innovation ecosystems on which they depend are healthy and benefit Maine people and communities.

The Alliance was founded in 2016 by the University of Maine (UMaine), the awardee of the contract to provide program oversight for the 2014 voter-approved Marine Economy and Jobs Bond

The Alliance’s initial investment of $14 million in Maine’s marine economy was implemented via the following programs:

  • Initial Bond Projects - $5 million were invested in infrastructure and technologies across seven bond projects that were defined in UMaine’s proposal.

  • Marine Economy Capital Grants Program  - In partnership with MTI, $2 million were allocated to ten projects through a competitive grants process. This program invests in traditional fisheries, aquaculture, and other seafood-related businesses by giving up to 50% of the costs of capital equipment related projects with the goal of advancing the standards and practices in Maine’s marine industry.

Alliance activities include a Spring Gathering to conduct business and hear industry perspectives, a Fall Forum to share information about the projects including lessons learned, industry field days, and more. 

The Alliance is coordinated by Maine Sea Grant, and fiscally managed by Maine Technology Institute. More than 40 volunteers, who represent the Alliance’s 20+ member organizations, volunteer their time to run the Steering Committee, the leadership arm of the Alliance, and various working groups. 


How well did the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy do the work? 

According to the Alliance’s 2018 Highlights, the following Bond Projects were funded in 2017 and 2018:

  • $500,000 (match $800,000) for expansion of Maine Fair Trade Lobster 

  • $150,000 (match $182,000) for lobster processing equipment at Cape Seafood

  • $500,000 (match $1.2 million) for a feed barge for Cooke Aquaculture’s facility 

  • $650,000 (match $650,000) for improvements to the waterfront infrastructure at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center 

  • $2,000,000 (match $2 million) for the addition of laboratory and business incubation space at the marine science field station at the UMaine Machias’ Downeast Institute

  • $125,000 (match $125,000) for instrumentation to support Bigelow Laboratory’s analytical services for Maine’s wild-harvest and farm-raised seafood industries 

  • $1.15 million (match $1.65 million) for construction of an Aquatic Animal Health Facility at UMaine with high-level biosafety capabilities to study fish pathogens and help minimize health risks to Maine’s wild and farmed fish stocks 

The following capital grants projects were awarded in 2017/18:

  • $44,328 (match $204,972) to Blue Hill Bay Mussels to commercialize remote settlement, a proven hatchery technology

  • $66,574 (match $75,000) to Coastal Enterprises to increase the substantial supply, quality, and diversity of farm-raised sea scallops

  • $100,000 (match $100,000) to Community Shellfish to develop a dynamic and innovative aquaculture venue to grow shellfish on the Medomak River

  • $400,000 (match $1.65 million) to Ready Seafood to expand markets for fresh Maine lobster by implementing the latest high-pressure processing technology

  • $336,000 (match $1.90 million) to Mook Sea Farm to build a multipurpose, state-of-the-art oyster facility

  • $250,400 (match $540,000) to Pemaquid Mussel Farms to continue development of submersible mussel raft technology to increase production of cultured mussels

  • $180,000 (match $697,000) to Springtide Seaweed for the creation of a new aquaculture seaweed exchange to expand seaweed production

  • $400,000 (match $1.15 million) to Shucks Maine Lobster to expand a lobster processing facility  

  • $144,0000 (match $160,000) to Georgetown Aquaculture for oyster farm start-ups

  • $33,000 (match $33,000) to Maine Aquaculture Cooperative to purchase capital equipment to support scallop aquaculture

The public bonds funds of 7 million required another 7 million match, and since 2016, the Marine Economy and Jobs Bond has leverage over $20 million. The funding has been completely distributed to innovative projects spanning the coastline from Saco to Machiasport. 


Is anyone better off? 

The expectation is that program results will be of benefit to the individual award recipient, the marine economy, and by extension, the Maine economy. Those who receive investment from the Alliance are required to document lessons learned and best practices for the purchased equipment or technologies to promote rapid adoption throughout the sector.

Capital investments in public institutions and private businesses will benefit the entire marine sector by facilitating business development, accelerating product innovation, assessing and preventing risks to resource health, forecasting changes in product supply and improving the value of Maine’s seafood resources. As of 2018, the Alliance for Maine’s Marine Economy is positively impacting Goal II of the Maine Food Strategy Framework in the following ways:

  • 158 new jobs

  • 13 expanded jobs

  • 23 new products and techniques developed and hundreds more anticipated

  • 2 new projects commercialized

  • $24 million+ increase in revenues

  • 10 new collaborations between for-profit companies plus 10 more projected over the next 10 years

  • 8 new species introduced to the aquaculture sector

  • 1 new or strategically re-located aquaculture production sites

  • 10 new research projects facilitated

  • Economic Development - As of 2018, the $7 million in public bond monies has been enhanced by more than $20 million in leveraged funds.

This data represents initial/anticipated outcomes that will continue to be tracked. 

The Alliance is a response network of collaborative learning and action, providing opt-in opportunities to boost Maine’s marine economy. Beyond the initial marine bond investment, the Alliance is working towards tackling industry workforce issues, identifying opportunities for new value-added products and processes in the value chain, and increasing industry resiliency in the face of change or changing conditions. 


Contact Info

Name: Keri Kaczor