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Talking Aquaculture in Maine: Damariscotta River – The Oyster Capital of Maine

August 3 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

August 3
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Free Event:
Thu Aug 3 at 7 PM

Talking Aquaculture in Maine is a free series of conversations with innovators who are making a substantial contribution to aquaculture here in the state of Maine.

Since the glaciers receded from Maine, oysters have had a place in the Damariscotta River. Its famous shell mounds are a testament to this long history and the connection to the river held by the Nanrantsouak of the N’dakina and larger Wabanaki populations. Join Damariscotta resident Sam Belknap of the Island Institute with a panel of three experts as we journey through the river’s environmental and cultural history. Learn more about the birth of oyster aquaculture in Maine and what the future holds for this iconic river, its oysters, and aquaculture. Learn about the history of the river and what makes it so special from Coastal River Conservation Trust’s Director of Education and Citizen Science, Sarah Gladu. Hear from Jeff “Smokey” McKeen, folklorist and co-founder of Pemaquid Oyster Company, about the birth of aquaculture in the river and the example it has set for the State of Maine. And hear from restauranteur, entrepreneur and oyster farmer, Brendan Parsons, about what drew him to the river and how his business highlights the region’s growers. 

Are you an Island Institute Member? The team at the Island Institute would love to know if you plan on attending. Please email them at membership@islandinstitute.org and let them know they’ll see you at the Lincoln Theater.

Sam Belknap is Director of Island Institute’s Center for Marine Economy, overseeing work on a number of areas including protecting and sustaining Maine’s working waterfronts, advancing electric outboards for Maine’s commercial fleet and expanding aquaculture in Maine. Born in Damariscotta and raised on the shores of the Pemaquid Peninsula and the islands of Muscongus Bay, Sam is a trained anthropologist and climate scientist who has been fascinated by how individuals and communities adapt to changing social and environmental circumstances. After ‘running away’ from Maine after high school to experience the U.S. from behind the wheel of a giant baby blue Cadillac, he decided to return to Maine and dedicate his education and career to supporting the coastal communities where he grew up. Sam holds a M.S. and a M.A. from the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and Department of Anthropology.

Sarah Gladu has been running Coastal Rivers’ education program since 2005 and has worked in environmental education since 1992. Sarah currently coordinates Coastal Rivers’ varied citizen science projects and is Chair of MCOA (Maine Coastal Observing Alliance). Previously she worked for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension coordinating state-wide water quality monitoring programs. Sarah is a Registered Maine Guide with a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Brandeis University, where she also attained a Teaching Certification and a Wildlife Management Certificate. In 1998, she received a Master of Environmental Learning and Leadership from the University of Minnesota. Sarah lives in Waldoboro with her two daughters, her husband Tim, four Norwegian Elkhounds, four fish, three horses, chickens, ducks, sheep, one goat and one cat.


Jeff “Smokey” McKeen, folklorist and co-founder of Pemaquid Oyster Company. Jeff founded Pemaquid Oyster Company on the Damariscotta River in 1986 and now raises over a million oysters a year. He has been written up in the New York Times and Yankee Magazine, and is featured in Mario Batali’s American Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers.



Brendan Parsons, owner of Shuck Station and Blackstone Point Oysters, grew up on the coast of Maine in the quaint village of Damariscotta. During the summers of high school and college he catered weddings and cocktail parties where he polished his oyster shucking skills while manning the raw bar. His vast oyster knowledge comes from many hours working on oyster farms, where his passion for oysters sparked into BP’s Shuck Shack – Maine’s first mobile food cart to serve raw oysters. In 2017 he opened River Bottom Raw Bar and Damariscotta River Distribution and more recently built & operates a top oyster bar in the state, The Shuck Station along with a great wholesale shellfish distribution business, Damariscotta River Distributors,  both located at the mouth of the Damariscotta River in Newcastle, ME.



Talking Aquaculture in Maine is presented in partnership with
Island Institute and The Shuck Station


Talking Aquaculture in Maine is a free series open to the public; no reservations or tickets are required to attend.

Are you an Island Institute Member? The team at the Island Institute would love to know if you plan on attending. Please click here to send them an email and let them know they’ll see you at the Lincoln Theater or for more information.