Multiple alleged incidents of illegal rockweed harvesting have provided the catalyst to file a civil lawsuit against Acadian Seaplants, The Quoddy Tides reported.
The lawsuit seeks to determine who has ownership of intertidal rockweed.
The plaintiffs are Ken and Carl Ross and Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation. The Rosses own shorefront property in Pembroke.
“It’s been frustrating for a lot of people,” Carl Ross said of the ownership issue.
Marine regulators and industry are currently working on a management plan to assure rockweed is harvested sustainably into the future. Rockweed is a common seaweed along the Maine coast. Harvesters have quadrupled their take since 2003.
Harvesters must have a license, but there is no limit on how much may be cut, raked or otherwise removed.
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. It is also an essential component of Maine’s intertidal zone, providing food, shelter and spawning habitat for a variety of small marine organisms.