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In the News: February 2016

Bandages from lobster shells A startup company in Maine is developing a children’s bandage coated with a substance extracted from crushed lobster shells that promotes blood-clotting and is resistant to bacterial infection. The company, Lobster Tough LLC, shipped Maine lobster shells to a processor in Iceland for testing, and so far, the results are promising, said Thor Sigfusson, an Icelandic investor in the company. Chitosan, the blood-clotting compound found in lobster shells, is currently produced industrially by crushing shrimp shells and washing the solids with acids to remove inorganic materials and proteins. The U.S. Army has used field bandages treated with chitosan processed from shrimp shells. The lobster shells must be dehydrated to remove weight and lower shipping costs. Lobster Tough this winter is shipping a portable dehydration machine from Iceland to Maine. The company eventually plans to build a $2 million dehydration plant somewhere on the Maine coast. The bandages would be the first commercial product developed through the New England Ocean Cluster, a new business incubator in Portland.

Lobster processing plant to reopen on P.E.I. The former Mariner Seafoods processing plant in Brudenell, Prince Edward Island, which closed nearly three years ago, has a new owner. The facility was purchased by North Lake Fisheries, the same Los Angeles-based company that bought another P.E.I. fish plant in 2013. The plant will process lobster starting with the spring fishery in May. The company’s goal is to maximize the plant’s capacity, although a company spokesman would not say exactly how many jobs the plant will offer.

Rockweed harvesting prompts lawsuit Multiple alleged incidents of illegal rockweed harvesting have provided the catalyst for Pembroke property owners to file a civil lawsuit against Acadian Seaplants. The lawsuit seeks to determine who has ownership of intertidal rockweed. The plaintiffs are Ken and Carl Ross and Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation. Marine regulators and industry members are currently working on a management plan to ensure rockweed is harvested sustainably. Harvesters must have a license, but there is no limit on how much may be cut, raked or otherwise removed. Landings have quadrupled since 2003.In Maine, rockweed has comprised over 95% of Maine’s seaweed landings by weight over the past five years. An estimated 16.7 million pounds of rockweed was harvested in 2013, compared with 468,900 pounds of other seaweeds. Most rockweed in Maine is processed into two general product categories — nutritional supplements for animals and people and concentrated fertilizers. With a total estimated value of $20 million per year, rockweed is one of Maine’s most valuable marine resources.

And the winners are… In early January, three Maine lobstermen found that they held the winning tickets to the Rockland Lobster Trap Tree. Travis Carter of Waldoboro, Fred Allen III of South Thomaston, and Quinten Toothaker of Harpswell each won 50 traps from Brooks Trap Mill. More than 340 tickets were sold at Brooks Trap Mill, Hamilton Marine, Camden National Bank, and The First for the Trap Tree, which was organized by Rockland Main Street. The proceeds support Rockland Main Street’s community events.

Plastics in the ocean going up There is a lot of plastic trash floating in the world’s oceans. But that quantity pales in comparison to the amount that the World Economic Forum, a public-private nonprofit organization based in Switzerland, expects will be floating in the oceans by the middle of the century. If the world continues to produce and improperly dispose of plastics at predicted rates, plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound in 2050, according to the report released in January. Worldwide use of plastic has increased twenty-fold in the past 50 years, and it is expected to double again in the next 20 years. By 2050, the world will be making more than three times as much plastic stuff as it did in 2014. About a third of all plastics produced escape collection systems and often wind up in waterways and ultimately, the oceans. Currently, that amount is approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic a year.

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