Maine seaweed farmer aims to help aquaculture grow more lucrative ocean plants through new method

If you lift the longlines of just about any seaweed farm in Maine, you’ll likely see the long blades of kelp or another member of the brown seaweed family. Now a Gouldsboro organic seaweed farmer wants to add a dash of red.

Sarah Redmond, the owner of Springtide Seaweed in Frenchman Bay, has set out to develop a new method of farming dulse and nori, two high-value and in-demand red seaweeds. Both have a long history of wild harvest in Maine but are nearly non-existent on sea farms across the country.

The two plants can fetch prices twice as high as their brown seaweed counterparts, giving Redmond and others hope that cultivating them could bring an economic boost to the growing industry.

“People in the North Atlantic have been using and eating these seaweeds forever and there’s tremendous interest in learning a farming system for these plants,” she said last week. “I think there’s enormous potential.”

Red seaweeds are cultivated on a massive scale in Asia, but haven’t caught on in the US In the 1990s, a Maine farm grew nori in Cobscook Bay, but eventually folded. There is a West Coast operation that grows red seaweed in tanks, Redmond said, but commercial scale farms in the US waters have remained elusive.

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