Even though the Nova Scotia firm Acadian Seaplants Ltd. wants to cut rockweed rather than edible varieties of seaweed, the proposal is focusing more attention on the industry than [Ronnie Hinkle] would like to see. The company has posted fliers from one end of Washington County to the other in search of workers willing to cut rockweed for about $25 a wet ton. So far they haven't attracted many takers, but growing demands from Japan, China, and other Asian nations have the potential of making seaweed Maine's next big cash crop.
Citing Colonial statutes that go back to the days when Maine was a province of Massachusetts, [Albion Goodwin] says Maine laws continue to recognize the value of seaweed as a fertilizer. All of the seaweed exposed during low tide belongs to the landowner, he said, and should not be available free for the taking by harvesters at high tide without the property owner's permission.
Caption: 1. Harvester Ronnie Hinkle surrounded by alaria, an edible seaweed, in the drying shed at his home in Addison, Maine. / GLOBE STAFF PHOTO / TOM HERDE 2. Ronnie Hinkle loading freshly cut seaweed onto his boat. "This is a good job for me in the spring and when there's no work," he said. / GLOBE STAFF PHOTO / TOM HERDE