Seagriculture Speaker

Seagriculture USA

6 - 7 September 2023

Portland, ME, USA

Some lessons and challenges in building a sustainable seaweed business

Shep Erhart, Co-founder, President, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, USA

About the speaker:

  • Founder of Maine Coast Sea Vegetables in 1971
  • Helped develop the first nationwide brand of domestic seaweeds for medicinal and culinary use.
  • Sold the company to the employees as an ESOP in 2017
  • Helped develop Organic Certification Standards for wild crafted seaweeds in 1993 for OCIA, and for cultivated seaweeds in 2017 for MOFGA
  • Founding member, past President, current Board member of the Maine Seaweed Council
  • Member of the Seaweed Fisheries Advisory Council, advising the Commissioner of the Dept. Marine Resources on all seaweed matters.
  • Currently heading the Best Sustainable Practices team, focused on documenting the regulations and practices used for harvesting and handling 9 Maine macroalgae.
  • Currently part of a team applying the principles of Ecosystem Based Management to the Maine Rockweed Fisheries Management Plan   


Company info: 

Maine Coast Sea Vegetables was founded in 1971 by Shep and Linnette Erhart in their farmhouse kitchen, inspired by a pot of miso soup that was especially delicious. They realized that the soups’ full, rich flavor came from the wild Alaria they had gathered from the shores of the Schoodic Peninsula, and they soon began sharing their Atlantic Wakame and other wild-harvested sea vegetables with friends and neighbors. At the time, there were few other folks harvesting and selling seaweed in Maine, and within a few years the Erhart’s built one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the industry. Today, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is an employee-owned company operating out of a modern processing plant in Hancock, Maine.  Every year, our team of over twenty people sorts, packs and ships several hundred thousand pounds of sea vegetables to customers all across the United States (& Canada).  We pride ourselves on being able to offer reliable and trustworthy information on the nutritional, health, culinary, and environmental benefits of North American sea vegetables.