Interview with CEI’s Fishery & Aquaculture Specialists

In May 2014, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $500,000 grant award to CEI for recapitalization of the Fisheries Revolving Loan Fund. Dick Clime and Hugh Cowperthwaite, who direct CEI’s Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Program, explain how they combine financing, development, and policy support for opportunity and change:

How does CEI support marine-based economies?
We invest in sustainable fisheries businesses that produce quality jobs, strengthen the working waterfront infrastructure, target sustainably harvested marine resources, reduce waste streams and energy consumption, sell seafood with transparency and traceability, and shorten the seafood distribution chain. We work closely with entrepreneurs who need financing, business counseling, and professional advice, and we serve as an industry advocate for critical state and national policies.

How does your program factor into CEI’s Platform for Sustainable Lending and Investing?
CEI’s lending platform recognizes the importance of global business competitiveness and innovations in science and technology that can revitalize the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This is evident in our interest and investment in value-added processing, technological advances in aquaculture, diversification of sustainable fisheries, boat designs, energy/fuel efficiency, alternative designs for seafood transportation, and marketing that utilizes web-based solutions. CEI’s Platform projects a $128 million investment in Maine’s economy over five years. Our program will invest at least $5 million in Maine’s fisheries and aquaculture industries before the end of 2017. We are on pace to surpass that figure by several million dollars.

What are the greatest challenges you face in your work?
Raising capital is an ongoing challenge, and developing the deal flow that meets our sector’s triple bottom line objectives is the companion challenge. We seek flexible capital from partners and financial institutions that is free of geographic constraints and has broad applications in the sector. A combination of grants with capital borrowed at low interest and for longer terms is ideal.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Meeting people who make their living from commercial fishing and aquaculture, and helping them grow and expand their businesses. Seeing Maine’s beautiful coastline is a visual bonus.