Understanding the Potential to Farm Kelp as an Aquaculture Crop in New England

Kelp RIThis market and supply chain analysis project is working to shed light on the extent to which kelp, a New England native seaweed, can serve as a viable second crop for shellfish farmers. Aquaculture is one of Rhode Island’s fastest growing enterprises, with oyster and quahog farming dominating New England’s industry. Increasingly, these farmers are seeking to diversify and are weighing whether other forms of aquaculture – like kelp – can provide winter income, and keep employees working longer. Data from the project’s feasibility analysis is helping answer whether kelp farming is economically and environmentally sustainable for the region. The goals of the analysis are to:

  • Examine opportunities, barriers and potential marketing pathways for kelp that encompass existing and potential new markets.
  • Identify promising supply chain scenarios based on specific products (i.e. fresh or processed kelp) for different markets (i.e. local or export).
  • Involve interviews with seafood buyers and distributors, shellfish and kelp farmers, and regulators.
  • Consider economic, social and governance/regulatory factors that may shape marketing pathways.

This project is funded is by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marketing Service

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