In Maine, marine algae are managed under the jurisdiction of the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR). While regulations for shellfish aquaculture are well developed, seaweed harvest in Maine remains underregulated. Harvesters are licensed by the DMR and should report their landings on an annual basis. Despite a 2019 ruling legalizing protections for rockweed based on property rights, there is little to no enforcement or oversite of rockweed cutting by the DMR. See below for regulatory information for aquaculture and wild harvest of marine algae.
Maine Department of Marine Resources
Maine seaweed regulations: Chapter 29
Maine seaweed laws
A. The seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum, also known as rockweed, must be harvested according to the following criteria:
- The lowest lateral branches shall remain undisturbed and attached to the main stalk of the rockweed that is attached to the substrate; and
- A minimum of 16 inches of the rockweed shall remain above the holdfast.
DMR Rockweed Landings Program
- Prior to January 30th each year, persons licensed pursuant to 12 M.R.S. §6803-A (seaweed buyer’s license), who purchased more than 10 wet tons in the previous calendar year directly from permitted seaweed harvesters, shall pay a surcharge of $1.50 per wet ton. The surcharge is payable to the Department of Marine Resources, mailing address, DMR Licensing Division, attn: seaweed surcharge, SHS 21, Augusta, Maine 04333-0021.
- Each seaweed harvester required to be licensed under 12 MRS §6803 must report harvesting activity for all seaweed species on forms supplied by the Department. Records must be kept on a daily basis, and the report must be mailed to the Department monthly. Reports for each month’s activity shall be mailed to the Department within 10 days of the end of the month. The report must include the following information for each day that harvesting occurs:
- Name, permit number and phone number of licensed harvester; Date(s) harvested; Harvest area (sector # - where applicable, bay, cove, river, ledge and or island); County and town (use town codes provided, per instructions); Harvesting methods (hand, knife, rake, mechanical, diver); Total harvest time (number of hours); Seaweed species; and Pounds landed (wet).
To engage in aquaculture in Maine, including the suspended culture of any marine organism, the culture of finfish in nets, pens, or other enclosures, or bottom culture of shellfish with exclusive rights to harvest them, Maine law requires you to obtain from DMR either:
A standard lease (Application fee of $1,500 for shellfish, marine algae, or other species; $2,000 for finfish; term is up to 10 years; size is up to 100 acres; renewable);
An “experimental” lease (Application fee of $100; non-renewable 3-year term; size is up to 4 acres); oriented-purpose aquaculture license (LPA) ($50 fee, renewable annually, up to 400 square feet of space for designated types of gear for culturing certain species of shellfish, algae, or sea urchins in a single location, limit 4 per person).
A limited-purpose aquaculture license (LPA) ($50 fee, renewable annually, up to 400 square feet of space for designated types of gear for culturing certain species of shellfish, algae, or sea urchins in a single location, limit 4 per person).