Hello Friends and Fellow Seaweed Lovers,
As you may have heard, there’s a seaweed event happening today. This event appears to be eerily similar to the original MAINE SEAWEED FESTIVAL that we devoted our lives to designing and promoting for 2+ years. We then put our event on pause because we could not ethically continue to focus on celebrating all things seaweed once our eyes were opened to all things inaccurate and unjust going on in our local industry.
Strangely, since the for-profit company running today's event has made no attempt to explain that we are in no way the same event nor affiliated in any way, we wanted to make it clear. It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but we are not flattered. We find zero humor or integrity in using our creative and highly successful blueprint to benefit their own agenda and skew public perception.
Notably, we would have liked nothing more than to continue celebrating seaweed and the industry in our home state. The position we find ourselves in (losing friendships, putting our business goals on hold, being whistleblowers on a highly-regarded idyllic industry) was never our first choice nor intention, but silence in the face of injustice was simply not an option for us. This experience has been extremely confusing and devastating, to the point of questioning whether we should move forward many times. Yet after building much external and internal support, we are now ready to speak. We have had multifaceted experiences, ones that we did not directly ask for, but that we trust we had for a reason.
We’ll say again as we’ve said since 2016, we do not know for sure that we are on the brink of disaster. But NO ONE knows for sure. And when it comes to a valuable natural resource we can never be too sure.
This is not a time to tarry as global resources and species are exploited for economic gain at an alarming rate. Others across the world, such as Ireland, are also dealing with this dangerous reality as we speak. We want to insure that Maine’s “unrecognized recognized fishery” gets the recognition and respect it deserves.
While we do believe humans have great capacity for error, we also believe in a greater capacity for change. We can not take for granted arbitrary and self-flagellating claims of sustainability without substantial proof. We must find a balance between bottom lines and best practices. And while it is sincerely not our intention or desire to hurt anyone personally, we will do everything in our power to professionally pursue justice and hold those parties accountable for their actions.
We can do better in Maine and we would like the opportunity to discover what it will take to make this dream a reality. It is time to mature and commit to a clear and applicable plan for sustainability. This is a plea to participate in creating a new foundation for ethical behavior that supports sentient beings and transparent practices. It is not too late. We can cultivate a future for Maine that we can be proud of. One that affords future generations participation in our cultural heritage of harvesting and farming seaweeds while resting in the knowledge that they are contributing to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.
We don’t claim to have all of the answers to our questions. This is multifaceted, complicated conversation, spanning both wild harvest and aquaculture-related issues. Thankfully, we know we are not alone in this space of questioning authority and “the way it’s always been done”. To those who resonate and want to contribute, we urge you to reach out, ask questions and share our content with friends and family. Become an ally with us in this intertidal zone of change!
The tide has turned and the truth must be told. Seaweed is too valuable a life force on this planet not to overcome our vulnerability and share what we believe in our hearts is the truth and the correct course of action to take. It is our hope that we are heard with open minds that are willing to see things differently so that we can create a new paradigm.
Hillary & Aaron
In the weeks and months to come we will be sharing details about how our journey in Maine seaweed has influenced our perspective. This will include outlining the numerous issues that stewards of Maine seaweed must address in order to make ethical progress.
Selected recent seaweed articles
Along Maine’s northeastern coast, seaweed stirs an international controversy, The Washington Post, July 14, 2018
A Fish Called Rockweed, Hakai Magazine, May 29, 2018