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Seaweed Company to Appeal Rockweed Harvesting Decision

The president of the world’s largest seaweed processing company said Friday that his firm will appeal Thursday’s Washington County Superior Court order that bars the harvest of rockweed, a form of seaweed, without the consent of shorefront property owners.

J.P. Deveau, president of the Nova Scotia-based Acadian Seaplants Ltd., says his company will continue harvesting operations in Maine pending the outcome of the appeal.

“What happens now is that the industry and the intertidal marine zone plant continues to operate the same way as it does while this is under appeal until the higher court, the law court, will make its final determination,” he says. “At which case that’s it, it’s either in the public trust or it will be private property.”

At the Maine Department of Marine Resources, spokesman Jeff Nichols says if allowed to stand, the lower court’s decision could have a major effect on rockweed harvesting in the state.

“This decision is potentially a significant blow to Maine’s seaweed industry,” he says. “I know that Commissioner [Patrick] Keliher has made clear that he’s very disappointed in this decision.”

Nichols says the Department of Marine Resources plans to continue managing rockweed as a fishery and emphasized that the Washington County court order does not pertain to wormers, clammers and other marine resource harvesters.

Gordon Smith, a Portland attorney representing several Washington County landowners in the case, says his clients expected the Canadian company to appeal and continue to maintain that rockweed is not a commodity that falls within the public trust.