Aquaculture Research Institute and Educate Maine Co-Host First Annual Student Symposium for the Advancement of the Blue Economy

Belfast, ME — The Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI), in partnership with Educate Maine, furthered Maine’s aquaculture sector by hosting the first “Annual Student Symposium for the Advancement of the Blue Economy” in Belfast. This groundbreaking event celebrated the growth of Maine’s blue economy, providing a unique platform for undergraduate students to showcase their summer work, network with industry professionals, and engage in discussions about the future of Maine’s marine and freshwater sectors.

This symposium spotlighted the work of dozens of students, including twelve externs and six Aquaculture Experiential Opportunities for Undergraduate Students (AquEOUS) Program Fellows from ARI who completed diverse research projects across the state. Their ventures ranged from assessing the viability of small-scale shrimp land-based farming and investigating the impacts of invasive tunicate species on mussels to devising strategies against the invasive European green crab and examining the potential restocking strategies for the American eel population in Maine.

A panel discussion featured young professionals who are still shaping their career paths with a shared sentiment of exploration and discovery. The conversations underscored the idea that Maine’s Blue Economy is a tight-knit community, thriving on connections, adaptability, and the courage to venture into new territories. In this evolving industry, students are encouraged to be innovative and forward-thinking, and to engage with opportunities of which they might have been previously unaware.

Several media outlets covered the symposium, spotlighting its significance in addressing workforce development challenges within the aquaculture sector. This coverage emphasized the event’s role in fostering a specialized workforce, essential for the growth of the industry.

Coverage can be accessed through the following links:

The symposium was a testament not only to the academic and technical growth of the externs but also to the impactful relationships they cultivated with their mentors. As Randi Phillips, one of ARIs externs reflected, “Sarah is wonderful to work under and I’m just happy I get to learn from her. Because I’ve known I want to get into research, that means getting a master’s, potentially a PhD and I think mentorship from Sarah and other grad students has given me a lot of experience and direction.” To gain a more intimate understanding of these personal journeys, tune into ARIs podcast episode produced by another one of our interns.

The event illuminated the transformative experiences that are shaping these students’ personal and professional trajectories. Anticipating a bright future for Maine’s blue economy, ARI and Educate Maine are committed to fostering platforms that will cultivate a new generation of aquaculture experts.