“We are standing on the brink of a great opportunity and a great value for our economy with this influx of seaweed popularity. As an educator, it’s very hard to promote these beautiful plants and their amazing virtues, and then not be sure about who is safe to buy from and what the best waters for harvesting [and farming] are. I'd like to see more....”
-Hillary (Festival Founder and Curator) from the article entitled “Seaweed” in the January-February 2016 issue of Zest magazine.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
We know that we pulled at many heart strings with our last newsletter of 2015 when we questioned the future of the Maine Seaweed Festival. Seaweeds are sacred to us and we LOVED celebrating them by the seashore with you for the past two years. However, the tides have turned, revealing a need to return to the drawing board to revise this exciting event.
WILL THERE BE ANOTHER SEAWEED FEST?
YES, but not in 2016.
For the following reasons, when we host the Festival in the future, we will be changing the container...
- We cannot, in good faith, continue to promote this growing fishery with the current lack of transparency, accountability, and regulation around best harvesting, farming and business practices. This leaves us in the unfortunate position of potentially promoting businesses and harvesters that may not be following best practices and acting as responsible sea stewards.
- While we do not believe our wild resource is currently in jeopardy, the classic path for many fisheries has been destruction by human error. We would be devastated to see that and to have indirectly contributed to it in any way. With the rapid growth in the industry, we are choosing to err on the side of caution while we work internally to remedy this issue.
- We also believe that innovative Aquaculture efforts will offset *some* of these issues, but the opportunities we have been promoting are not manifesting as quickly as we hoped. We do not want to feed the public false hope of what is actually possible at this time. (Good things ARE happening, but the infrastructure is not currently in place to support the perceived opportunities and potential rapid growth in local cultivated seaweeds.)
As we formulate our "new and improved" Festival, we ask for your support and patience.
Holdfast...stay connected...and expect to be entertained and educated in the same diverse and delightful ways you have come to expect from the curators of Seaweed Fest. And if you're inspired to support, we still have a selection of super-comfy Seaweed Fest T-shirts (and totes too!).
FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Though it's from 2008, we enjoyed this article in Scientific American that shares a heart healthy dose of wisdom to what might be possible in the future of seaweed!
We thank you for your interest in Maine Seaweeds and The Maine Seaweed Festival. Stay tuned for updates.
Our best regards,
The Seaweed Fest Crew