Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Teresa Johnson

Second Committee Member

Christopher Davis

Third Committee Member

Samuel Hanes

Additional Committee Members

Paul Rawson

Mario Teisl


Aquaculture, or the farming of marine species, can diversify coastal economies, but development of this industry is hindered by negative perceptions or regulatory constraints. Commercial fishers are logical adopters of aquaculture, but can also mount opposition to its growth. This dissertation utilized innovation theory to understand fishers’ perceptions of and willingness to adopt aquaculture and drivers of and barriers to scallop aquaculture development in Maine (USA). Through a mail survey, lobster fishers’ perceptions of Maine’s aquaculture industry and their willingness to adopt aquaculture were assessed (Chapter 2). Individuals who were more satisfied with government management of aquaculture held more positive views while those who believed the number of farms and rate of aquaculture growth in the area in which they fished were too high and that aquaculture damaged the environment were more likely to hold negative views. Those who viewed aquaculture positively, had considered it in the past, had fished longer, and were diversified within fisheries were more likely to consider adoption while older individuals who derived a greater percentage of their income from commercial fishing were less likely to consider adoption. Given the interest in facilitating fisher adoption of aquaculture, this dissertation explored the adoption process through interviews with fishers who had taken aquaculture training programs or were farming (Chapter 3). The majority were farming species with established husbandry practices or markets and that aligned with commercial fishing activities. Fishers who would consider aquaculture in the future identified start-up costs as a barrier. Innovation system approaches consider the broader context within which individual adoption occurs. Applying the Technological Innovation Systems framework to data collected through interviews with key informants and a document analysis, factors important to scallop aquaculture development were identified. These included a need to increase market demand and establish all aspects of the supply chain (Chapter 4). To facilitate fisher adoption, training efforts should focus on younger fishers and business models that allow aquaculture operations to be viable at multiple scales should be supported. Given the variability in commercial fisheries, aquaculture is an opportunity to maintain Maine’s working waterfronts and maritime heritage (Chapter 5).