WHAT DOES THE "OYSTER LADY" THINK ABOUT SEAWEED?
Perhaps best known nationally from her viral biographical YOUTUBE TED video as "The Accidental Oyster Farmer," Abigail Carroll is the founder and owner of Nonesuch Oysters in Scarborough, ME. Carroll sees her role not only to farm oysters but to protect the ecology of Greater Saco Bay. She works actively with the Aquaculture program at the nearby University of New England. Abigail has quickly become an important member of her local seaside community and an emerging leader in the State of Maine shellfish community.
The "Oyster Lady" is not a marine biologist and arrived at oyster farming quite by chance - as an investment. Her previous day job was trading stocks and consulting with small businesses in France. The common denominator? Says Carroll "I think the common denominator between finance and raising oysters is 'hedging risk' - nature in aquaculture and economic factors in finance." Both socially and ecologically conscientious, and with financial/investment skills - who better to ask about seaweed oyster farm potential than Abigail Carroll?
SEAWEED Questionnaire Answers:
1. Please rate the level of your knowledge about seaweed farming?
Ans. Very little knowledge.
2. Seaweed can be used for various purposes. Which of these purposes interests you most from a business point of view?
Ans. Human consumption.
3. What is your own personal experience as a seaweed consumer?
Ans. I only eat seaweed in restaurants.
4. How large is your current oyster farm?
Ans. Less than five acres.
5. How long do you think it would take to establish the regulations to farm seaweed in your state?
Ans. The regulations already exist.
6. If start-up and labor costs were minimized, farming methodology was proven and available, and the return on investment were equal to or greater than that of oyster farming, how would you rate your interest in starting your own seaweed farm?
Ans. Moderately likely.
7. In your opinion, what is the biggest barrier seaweed farming faces?
Ans. Lack of knowledge and/or research.
Comment by Abigail: "I get horribly seasick and most of the work is performed off-shore in deeper waters. Plus, it looks super labor intensive and it's been hard to find good help. Currently I'm very lucky because I have two great full time people. But it hasn't always been that way!"
Down on Abigail's Nonesuch farm
The slide show above depicts the current daily routine at the Nonesuch Oyster Farm. The juvenile oysters spend a few weeks in the upweller nursery and then they are "planted" in the Bay. The result is that journalists eat some fine oysters on the boat. Consumers must buy them in a seafood market or wait to be served them in a raw bar.