Sustainable Fisheries

Sustainable Fisheries/Aquaculture Program

CEI’s involvement in Maine’s fisheries, aquaculture, and marine trades sectors spans our 40-year history.  Since we began in 1977, CEI has put over $18 million dollars into promising marine businesses — translating to  2,200 jobs created or retained in our communities and benefiting over 670 fishing boats, 1100 fishermen and 1200 Maine families along protected wharves.

CEI provides advising and financing to fisheries and aquaculture businesses to improve their long-term viability, create and maintain quality jobs, safeguard marine-related infrastructure and environments, and help preserve the cultural integrity of Maine’s working waterfront.

Our deep Maine roots and passion for economic development gives CEI the extensive expertise and insight into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs in the fishery and aquaculture sectors. We do more than find funding for vessels and upwellers —we forge networks, embrace modern technologies, advocate for better policies, and celebrate the way these sectors sustain our Maine way of life.

Whether you are an aquaculturist or fisherman, harvester, processor, dealer or wholesaler, we can provide technical assistance and financing for your start-up, invention, expansion, equipment and infrastructure projects. Be it lending, advice, or both, CEI’s Fisheries/Aquaculture Program is here to help.


Our business development advisors lend their expertise, connections, and hands-on support— whatever it takes to make sure you and your business succeed.  CEI offers free, confidential consulting and support – coordinating a team approach that utilizes our Fisheries and Aquaculture staff specialists, CEI business advisors and loan officers, and our network colleagues, to help with the following:

  • Business planning and strategy
  • Accounting, record keeping and cash flow analysis
  • Access to CEI and other capital sources
  • Marketing and sales



CEI offers a variety of financing, including flexible debt, lines of credit, and equity. We often coordinate multiple sources of capital with other capital providers to achieve the best sources of financing for our aquaculture and fisheries businesses. Our offerings include:

  • Micro loans from $5,000 to $50,000 
  • Business loans from $50,000 to $3 million
  • Equity investments for start-up and growth stage businesses

TO APPLY FOR Financing

Fill out CEI’s general loan application. Mail the completed application to: CEI Lending Department, 30 Federal Street, Suite 100, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Contact our Fisheries and Aquaculture STAFF

Hugh Cowperthwaite
Director, Fisheries Project
(207) 535-2920

Nick Branchina
Associate Director, Fisheries & Aquaculture Programs
(207) 504-5862



Fisheries Project Staff are committed to business initiatives that  advance the commercial fishing, aquaculture and marine trade industry. Contact us about any of the initiatives listed below.

Current Initiatives

  • South Coast Massachusetts Aquaculture Sector Analysis – CEI is performing a sector analysis of the current and future economic opportunities for sustainable aquaculture along the following South Coast towns of Massachusetts.
  • Aquaculture in Shared Waters—A practical hands on aquaculture course offered to fishermen from a team representing CEI, University of Maine faculty, Sea Grant associates, Maine Aquaculture Association, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and the Downeast Institute. The fourth course in 4 years is currently planned to be delivered in 2018 in a Downeast location. Students enrolled will receive training for kelp, mussel and oyster farming start-ups.
  • Scallop Aquaculture Tech Transfer—CEI is currently leading a tech transfer effort with commercial fishermen and shellfish growers in Maine to culture Atlantic Sea scallops. The effort is in collaboration with representatives from Aomori, Japan where a well-established scallop aquaculture industry currently exists. CEI is purchasing and testing specialized scallop farm machinery to further advance the development of Maine’s scallop aquaculture industry.

Other Work

  • Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Protection Program—in partnership with the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Land for Maine’s Future program CEI actively preserved 25 strategically significant commercial fishing properties along the Maine coast.
  • Maine Seafood Distribution Study—in partnership with CT based Wholesome Wave we are working to connect Maine seafood harvesters, processors and other businesses with “food hubs” across New England.
  • Building Financing Capacity for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation—in partnership with other CDFI’s from around the country we delivered strategies for successful lending and equity investments in the nation’s commercial fisheries businesses which operate responsibly.
  • Microloans to purchase efficient semi-pelagic trawl doors and fuel flow meters—in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute we provided loans for the purchase of efficiency enhanced gear.
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance Program—a project run by the US Department of Agriculture, CEI staff business plan development and counseling services for hundreds of Maine lobstermen.