Gulf of Maine Wins Maine Food System Innovation Challenge

By Amy Jeanroy

 

Gulf of Maine, Inc, buys and sells shellfish from local fishermen and harvesters as well as collect fresh, marine life and other biological specimens for seafood, scientific, aquarium, and research markets across North America and beyond. Located in Perry, and run by the Sheehan family, Gulf of Maine has been instrumental in being a voice for local harvesters in the Washington County area. 

Recently, Gulf of Maine, Inc. has taken first prize in the Maine Food System Innovation Challenge, at Bowdoin College. The contest required teams to present their models (both financial and ecological) offering a fair return to the farmer or fisherman at a fair price to the buyer. GOM's  team, "The Happy Clams," won the first place prize.

When talking to Tim Sheehan the conversation always turns to sustainability; both for the company as well as for the harvester. Quick to give a list of reasons why GOM helps the local economy, Sheehan expands on what the win means for the future of the marine product business.

 "We are always thinking of how to get the young people into the industry. By diversification of the harvest, there is upward mobility. This expansion of the market can in turn help stabilize the income for diggers, making it a more viable future for families." 

The marine market is not just about clams, says Sheehan. "With the right markets, there are many more products that are available  in our waters. Other things like seaweeds, periwinkles, scallops, crabs, and even starfish are important to expanding the harvest season for a person who wants do this kind of work. Allowing them to  remain here or even move to this area. 

" This win will help us get into larger markets," he says " We can find out what they want and how Washington County harvesters can be that resource." 

The prize included $6,000 plus 6 hours of legal services, 6 hours of marketing advisory services and 6 hours of business development services. 

More than the money says Sheehan, this was an amazing opportunity to sit with people in the industry and hear affirmation that GOM ideas for a sustainable business, is headed in the right direction. 

"A better return for the harvester means a better return for GOM." Says Sheehan. 

Now, with plans to use the benefits of the win to explore online marketing and improve the infrastructure of the business itself, it is clear that the Sheehan's belief oft reinvesting back into the community is critical to Gulf of Maine's future success.