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Bristol Area Lions Club Learns About Local Aquaculture 11/09/2012

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Dana Morse of the Darling Marine Center, Walpole. Photo – Linda Healy

The upside potential for aquaculture in the Damariscotta River is excellent, according to Dana Morse, a Marine Extension associate at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole.

At a recent meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, Morse explained that more than half of the world’s edible seafood supply derives from aquaculture. In the U.S, because seafood consumption is low, approximately 85 percent of that is imported, thus creating a trade deficit second only to oil.

The Maine shellfish aquaculture story, which started at the Darling Marine Center in the 1970s, is working to change that scenario. With its excellent reputation for quality shellfish and offering a good price to growers, Maine is poised to make a positive impact on domestic aquaculture.

Field observation, scientific techniques, and a lot of trial and error have helped to improve the chances for Damariscotta River aquaculture over the last several decades.

Currently the river holds seven active oyster farms and more than ten mussel farms, and both industries are seeing gradual but steady growth.

Morse also sees a fantastic opportunity for local cultivation of sea scallops, whose meat is not impacted by red tide, and of razor clams.

The logistics of oyster farming are tricky at best, starting with microscopic larvae that grow rapidly to grain-size spat before attaching to a permanent surface like shell or rock.

It then takes at least two years for an oyster to mature enough for harvesting, assuming that natural predators and oyster diseases have been avoided.

Morse concluded his talk by mentioning the oyster gardening program begun at the Darling Center but now under the auspices of the Damariscotta River Association. Aimed at hobbyists and not professionals, the oyster gardening program is a 2-year commitment with comprehensive training for all participants.

In the brief business meeting that followed Dana Morse’s talk, the annual Club budget was presented along with a report on recent improvements to the Club’s Willing Workers Hall. At the next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, on Monday, November 19, representatives from Midcoast Energy Systems will give a presentation on geothermal energy.

To make dinner reservations for that meeting, please call 677-6191, and to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, contact John Janell at 563-7402


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