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A Fabric For the Future

Here are several recent press articles which take a look at scallop farming in Maine's future.

and one describing the progress of kelp farming in Maine:

So what does an image of a scallop on a piece of cloth have to do with this? Sometimes we need a metaphor or a symbol to help us think about a complex problem. As a cloth is woven of many individual threads, so the successful scallop farming industry in Japan is based on individuals such as the family pictured below on their boat in Amori Bay. Looks much like our lobster boats, does it not?

A boat, a crew, and local knowledge - that's the formula. But this is a huge industry in Japan. How do they do it? Scaleup is done on land. The fishermen bring their scallops ashore and by the truckful the scallops are carried to the processing plants.

Think again about the metaphor of woven cloth. All the individual threads together make a strong and resilient fabric. If one thread fails, it is a simple matter to mend it with a strand of darning wool. A sheet formed by a plastic or rubber film on the other hand can get very large but a single rip can be disastrous. You can patch it for a while with sticky tape but its integrity is compromised. Again and again we have seen that happen on land with our large monocultures.

We can do better for Maine's coast and its aquaculture. Issues remain to be solved: how do we make testing for biotoxins efficient and inexpensive? How do we handle issues of accessibility to expensive machines which make the processes of grading, sorting, and cleaning scallops for market similarly inexpensive and efficient?

Do take time to ponder the articles provided here. Like our pretty many-stranded plaid pictured here, the problems will be solved by an array of people and their knowledge. Where do you fit in this picture?

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