Letter: Beem needs education on seaweed harvesting

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In his recent column Edgar Allen Beem shared his admiration for Maine artisans, tradespeople and entrepreneurs. But he singled out and questioned the techniques he believes are employed by the men and women engaged in seaweed harvesting. Beem clearly knows nothing about the commercial seaweed harvest and leaves one to wonder if he knows anything about Maine’s seaweed fishery at all.

After mentioning a seaweed company by name, almost as if they are a novelty, he used inflammatory language to describe what he believes to be the method employed by professional harvesters. I can only imagine what damage his comments may do to this company, but I do know what damage his words have done to the public impression of this vibrant and sustainable fishery. He was clearly referring to the harvest of rockweed.

Beem may be interested to know that the process of developing harvest regulation in this fishery originated in his newly adopted town. In 1993, the Maine Seaweed Council was formed in Brunswick and has worked diligently for 24 years with peer-reviewed researchers and state regulators. From that continued effort the state has had, since 2014, a Fisheries Management Plan for rockweed. This plan finally codifies the practices which commercial harvesters have been using for many years. 

I encourage readers to visit the Maine Seaweed Council website for an overview of this sustainable, diverse and growing fishery and to watch for the innovative and valuable products which are being developed by our creative neighbors up and down the coast.

Andrew Bertocci, founding president
Maine Seaweed Council