Story and photos by Judy Benson
Connecticut Sea Grant will lead a three-year, multi-state initiative to create the economic and business framework needed to spur the fledgling domestic kelp industry into the mainstream.
Supported by a $766,650 federal grant announced today, the project will involve nine East and West Coast states where nascent seaweed aquaculture businesses are being impeded from further growth by the absence of comprehensive financial and management information resources. The economic analysis and business plans created by this project would be intended for use by different types of kelp farms as well as investors and lenders.
“There has been a real need for the information to be produced by this project to support the development of the kelp industry in Connecticut and the United States,” said project leader Robert Pomeroy, UConn professor emeritus, extension specialist and marine resource economist at Connecticut Sea Grant.
He will work with experts and colleagues in Sea Grant and university extension programs in New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Alaska, Washington, California, New York and Massachusetts to develop education and outreach programs needed for seaweed farmers, investors and lenders to make informed decisions. The grant funds will pay mainly for staff time required to research and analyze information on existing farms and markets as well as varying regulatory and environmental conditions in different states.
“The anticipated outcomes of this project include more access to capital, more informed business decisions by farmers, investors and lenders, increased employment, greater success of business and environmental improvements,” Pomeroy said.
Working as co-investigator on the project will be Tammy Warner, assistant professor of management at Keene State College in New Hampshire. She will lead the business planning aspects.