Sen. Angus King tours seafood processing and aquaculture facilities

HANCOCK COUNTY, Maine (WABI) - Senator Angus King toured businesses in Hancock County today that represent part of Maine's marine products industry.

"What we're trying to do is build what we call the blue economy."

King is well known for his support of the lobster industry. This trip however, he was focused on other processing facilities.

"Just like in the forest products you can't forget about paper and timber... you can't forget about lobstering and ground fish but you also have to think about the new products."

Or products that are being developed and marketed in new ways. King's first stop was Maine Coast Sea Vegetables in Hancock. The facility makes a variety of products from dried seaweeds. General Manager Seraphina Erhart says seaweed products are expanding.

"Aquaculture seaweed is new in the state of Maine but wild harvest here is not at all new."

The business has been in operation for 48 seasons, starting in a home kitchen in the early 70s.

"I'm talking about processing." said King. "Creating value from the products that we have. And sea vegetables and seaweed is one of the things that we have."

Erhart shared her concerns about problems facing marine industries.

"Some of the issues around the Gulf of Maine and its warming temperatures and what that might mean for the lobster industry or the oyster industry but also for seaweed."

and King responded. "The Gulf of Maine is one of our great assets and we've got to think about what climate change is going to do. The Gulf of Maine heating up faster than any other body of water on the planet except the Arctic Ocean."

King also took tours of Maine Shellfish Company in Ellsworth and Pemaquid Mussel Farms in Bucksport, meeting with staff and talking about the future of the marine economy.

"Inevitably there will be ideas...things that we can do in Washington that might be able to help. Whether it's legislation or whether it's poking the bureaucracy to help out with a grant or a regulation that's getting in the way of reasonable development."