Executive Director of Maine Aquaculture Association
Sebastian Belle has spent most of his career working to make Maine a national leader in aquaculture. “I have worked all over the world but came back to Maine because I believe that aquaculture can play a critical role in diversifying the economic base of our coastal communities and help increase the resiliency of Maine’s working waterfronts in a rapidly changing world,” he says. As the executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Association and a policy analyst for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Belle has helped make aquaculture more common in Maine and more accessible for fishermen. As aquaculture becomes more popular, Belle has seen new challenges arise and has hired more staff to meet the needs of the industry. Major challenges include the changing environment, gentrification in coastal communities, and high competition for the seafood market. Belle and his team at the Maine Aquaculture Association have been working to help established aquaculturists thrive while also helping new farms start up. A large part of Belle’s work has involved working with aquaculturists in Maine to develop best management practices. “Many of those methods are now recognized as some of the most progressive aquatic farming methods out there,” he says. He helped design 14 aquaculture projects in nine different countries and was the winner of the 2017 World Aquaculture Society Lifetime Achievement Award.