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The best impact for our Penobscot Bay waters might just be the waves.

But the Ecological Society of America and World Resources Institute agree that it’s hard to beat shellfish farming in coastal waters for low impact.

Growing scallops at the scale and location that Brewer’s PenBay Scallop Farming employs adds no fertilizers or antibiotics. There is no land use, no freshwater use, and minimal energy use. The scallop spat is native; genetic diversity of the population is assured. The scallops’ food is the naturally-occurring plankton, and since scallops are filter feeders, they actually clean our waters.

A new study from the west coast of Sweden examines the impact of kelp farming on under water lines and found raising the brown alga called Sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima, is another low impact way our fishermen can diversify in the winter months.

Environmentally friendly aquaculture is equally important here in Maine. Kelp farming and shellfish farming both offer the possibility of working with the ecosystem rather than harvesting the habitat or contaminating it.

Mariculture might be a better term for what we are thinking about than aquaculture since mare= sea; aqua only = water. Proper site location is crucial for successful mariculture ventures. It is up to all of us to see that our legislators keep an eye on how the State of Maine grants leases through the Department of Marine Resources for our sea farms. Penobscot Bay is a wonderful resource indeed. We need to keep access local, keep the bay healthy, and stay on guard against inappropriate uses.

And treat yourself to some PenBay farmed scallops. They have a lower impact on the environment than beans!

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