August, Maine, December 12, 2022 â€“ Atlantic Sea Farms, the first commercially viable seaweed farm in the U.S. and the American leader in seaweed aquaculture, is the 2022 recipient of the Maine Governor’s Award for Business Excellence (GABE) Heritage Industry Award. This award recognizes excellence in the agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and marine sectors. The woman-run, mission driven seaweed aquaculture company works with Maine fishermen to farm seaweed in their off-season and drives a market on their behalf, thereby building coastal resiliency in the face of climate change and improving food system inputs with award-winning value added seaweed products and stable raw materials.
Since 1991, the annual award has recognized and celebrated Maine businesses with a high level of commitment to their community and employees, as well as exemplary performance in the manufacturing or service profession.
â€œThis year’s award recipients are creating innovative new technologies, strengthening our rural communities, creating new opportunities in our heritage industries, and helping our state combat climate change,â€ said Governor Janet Mills. â€œThey are shining examples of the countless Maine businesses, entrepreneurs, and employees that make our state the best place to live, work, and start a business. I congratulate each recipient on this well-deserved honor.â€
Atlantic Sea Farms CEO Bri Warner was joined by team members Jesse Baines, Zoe Croft, and Casey Ballin to receive the award at the Blaine House in Augusta.
â€œAs first movers in the seaweed space here in the US, almost everything we do is an entirely new innovation,â€ explains Warner. â€œFrom our robust food safety program to processing, nursery operations, and farmer support, each of our team members have become the experts in their field, and all recognize the â€˜why’ of our business.â€
Atlantic Sea Farms started as a small kelp farm in Casco Bay, and has since grown into a community of seaweed farmers all the way up to Eastport. The mission-forward company works primarily with Maine lobstermen, who are looking to diversify their incomes in the face of climate change. Seaweed farming fits well into the Maine lobster industry’s owner-operator business model, skill set, and culture of good ocean stewardship, all key factors that have put Maine ahead in this relatively new industry in the US.
â€œWe’re here to ensure that coastal Mainers can continue to remain who we’ve always largely been â€“ people who work on the water â€“ and see seaweed farming as a tool for working waterfront communities to thrive in the face of climate change,â€ Warner says. â€œReceiving the GABE Heritage Industry Award is particularly meaningful, because it means that our mission is resonating with coastal communities and Augusta alike.â€
As New York Times food journalist, Melissa Clark, writes, â€œKelp is delicious and versatile, and farming it is actively good for the ocean.â€ Seaweed has become an increasingly popular, nutrient-dense, climate-friendly, plant-based food source. However 98% of what is eaten in the U.S. is imported and often grown in contaminated waters with questionable labor practices. Atlantic Sea Farms stands apart, and is working to disrupt the market with seaweeds grown in the clean, cold waters of Maine.
By creatingfirst-to-market domestic kelpproducts grown in pristine, domestic waters, female-led Atlantic Sea Farms is bringing healthier kelp products to the market whilemaking it easy for consumers toincorporate kelp into their daily diets. Their suite of award winning consumer products are available in grocery stores throughout Maine and across the country.
Atlantic Sea Farms is also driving a market at scale for seaweed in food service, working with chefs and campus dining programs throughout the US, and has quickly become a must-have ingredient for other brands in the meal-kit, nutrition, snack, and plant based space.
â€œWe’re expanding Maine’s best-in-class seafood brand, and making a real difference for fishing families in the process,â€ says Atlantic Sea Farms CMO Jesse Baines. â€œThey’re putting their skills and generational understanding of working on the water to good use, farming a clean, nourishing, versatile crop, and improving the health of the same ocean they’ve always stewarded in the process.â€
Seaweed farming is a zero input, regenerative process, requiring no arable land, fresh water, fertilizers, pesticides, or feed to grow that improves the health of the local ocean with every harvest. Atlantic Sea Farms provides all of their partner farmers with free high-quality seed, technical support, and a buy back guarantee in their contract, mitigating risk and best ensuring a sustained, informed effort in this fast growing industry.
Atlantic Sea Farms has recently moved to an SQF Certified processing and nursery facility in Biddeford, and their partner farmers have successfully seeded their farms and entered into the winter growing season in preparation for another record-breaking harvest in the spring of 2023. The most recent landings data from the Department of Marine Resources reports that Atlantic Sea Farms represents over 80% of the cultivated seaweed in the United States.
â€œYou don’t hear a lot of stories of hope in the face of climate change. We’re here to build resiliency, improve coastal livelihoods, and make delicious, nourishing products, all while we face a volatile future,â€ sums up Warner. â€œI’m thrilled that the Governor sees how important the new seaweed aquaculture industry is for Maine.â€
For more information, visit www.atlanticseafarms.com and check out @atlanticseafarms on Instagram and Facebook.