Aquaculture for all

Maine’s farmed shellfish industry promises significant growth

Restorative aquaculture Molluscs Economics +5 more

A new analysis of the farmed shellfish market, published by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, has predicted the industry to create annual revenues of over $20 million by 2028.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute report predicts that Maine's farmed oyster industry will grow by almost 50 percent over the next five years

A new report from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has found that the Northeast region is the fastest growing market for farmed shellfish in the US, and that Maine is the fastest growing state within the Northeast.

The report states that Maine has a “significant opportunity to expand its farmed shellfish industry” and that based on projections, the Maine shellfish industry could achieve revenues of over $28 million by 2028, a 40 percent growth from 2022, according to a press release from the research organisation.

Currently, shellfish represents a marketplace valued at over $700 million for domestic harvesters in the US, and $1.1 billion including imports. Maine accounts for approximately 3.5 percent of the total domestic-sourced shellfish landings, delivering approximately $26 million in landed value.

Within the farmed shellfish industry, oyster cultivation in particular has undergone significant growth over recent years. The Northeast region of the United States has been the only region to expand oyster capacity over the past six years, and is well positioned to capitalise on that growth and demand not met by other markets.

The best, or mid-point, projection estimates that demand for Maine oysters will grow by almost 50 percent over the 5-year planning horizon, equating to the production of approximately 5.5 million oysters.

Demand for Maine farmed mussels is projected to grow approximately 40 percent over the current supply by 2028, which exceeds the largest harvest achieved in 2019 by close to 20 percent, the report found.

Additionally, while Maine’s scallop industry represents only 2 percent of scallop volume nationally, Maine scallops fetch the highest average price per pound. The report finds that scallops are a newer aquaculture market and are less impacted by federal quotas than other regions, given the majority of scallops coming from day-boats in state waters.

Given that demand is projected to exceed supply for each species of shellfish, all of Maine’s shellfish aquaculture organizations are faced with a significant growth opportunity. The report highlights the actions required to facilitate this growth, including the need for increased investment in farming operations, distribution networks, marketing, and incremental lease acreage.

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