Doug loved to fish. Dan loved to farm. Both loved living and working along the coast of Brunswick. They started talking one day on the Brunswick playing fields and the seeds were planted – oyster seeds, that is.
As Brunswick’s Marine Warden, Dan had been looking for ways to improve local shellfish populations and degraded near shore ecosystems. Doug had been looking for new ventures on the water and ways to give back to the community. They both wanted their sons to grow up loving the coast of Maine as much as they do and to have opportunities to stay here and make a living. They were also both committed to protecting the valuable marine resources they knew and loved.
Dan started experimenting with shellfish farming as a way to replenish the locally harvested populations that had been hit hard with changes in water conditions and predation by invasive species like the green crab. Doug was serving on Brunswick’s Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission and was blown away by how quickly he could grow oysters in just a few bags off his dock.
From the very beginning, Mere Point Oyster Company has been a local business committed to the community. The seed comes from hatcheries lobated on the coast of Maine and the seafood retailers and suppliers they work with are all based in Maine too. It’s all part of their mission to support working waterfronts along the coast by providing new sustainable opportunities for coastal residents and younger generations.
That’s why you will find Dan out in the mud flats teaching Brunswick students about how clams grow and Doug teaching his sons how to manage the family business.
Oysters seemed like the perfect species to work with. They provide amazing environmental benefits to the marine ecosystem. A single oyster filters as much as 50 gallons of seawater a day, making the water cleaner and clearer so that other marine species can thrive. Also, they don’t take up much space! You can grow around 10,000 oysters in just 400 square feet. Oyster gear provides an excellent habitat for numerous marine species. In a busy waterfront area, it’s important to fit into the bigger picture. Finally, there just aren’t enough oysters out there.
American oysters, Crassostrea virginica, have been in Maine for hundreds of years. There used to be so many that you can still find heaps of shells left by the Wabanaki people. These shell mounds are called middens. One of the most famous middens is the Whaleback Shell midden, located in Damariscotta, only 40 minute north east of Brunswick.
In the 1970s, oyster populations plummeted as a result of pollution and environmental change. Farming oysters offered an opportunity to restore the native population and enhance near shore marine ecosystems.
Then, in 2015, Doug and Dan officially formed Mere Point Oyster Company (MPOC). They chose to site their farms where they live – in the clear, deep waters of Maquoit and Mere Point Bays. These bays are some of Maine’s most ecologically significant areas because of the rich marine life they support. Their on land operational hub became Doug’s barn, which thanks to Doug’s brother Andy and a very supportive team of local professionals, has been transformed into a functional office space and culling facility.
They started with 10,000 oysters the first year and added another 10,000 only 1 year later in 2016. They sold the first oysters directly to people out on Mere Point. People loved that the oysters were grown right there by a couple of local Mainers.
In 2017, they added another 250,000 oysters to the bay. This allowed them the ability to sell oysters to the public via local restaurants and inns for the very first time.
In 2018 MPOC opened a booth at the Brunswick Farmer’s Market at Crystal Springs Farm and has been a part of it every year since. As the oyster crop continues to grow, you will find MPOC oysters at a variety of markets and restaurants nation wide. Go ahead, ask for Mere Points by name, we are kind of a big deal.
Meet Our Families
Two dads, four sons, one family business. They met on Brunswick’s playing fields and now they farm it’s waters.
Doug has always loved fishing. His family has been on Mere Point for nearly 90 years, but he was the first fisherman. At 8 years old he took his parents’ Boston whaler out lobstering around the Point and to fish for mackerel, stripers, Pollack. He fished for anything he could catch and took anyone he could rustle up as crew – his mom even sterned for him when he hauled traps.
Pretty soon, he was fishing up and down the East Coast and had his own tuna boat by the time he was 24. Somewhere in there he went away to college and then found himself in New York City working for the Associated Press. But, he missed the coast of Maine.
When an opportunity came up to return to Maine and take over as the fourth generation owner of the family newspaper, The Times Record, he made the move. Now, Doug is back on the water and shares his love of fishing with wife Nicole and two sons, Tyler and Cameron.
Tyler and Cam started fishing with their dad when they were boys. They even hauled lobster traps together each summer to earn money for school. Both are now business majors.Cam is studying at Montana State University at Bozeman while Tyler is at Colorado University Boulder. They each have several of their own experimental shellfish lease sites and will be partners in Mere Point Oyster Company.
Dan made his way to Maine in 1989 after he enlisted in the United States Navy. Serving in Europe and other parts of the world, as well as, living along the Maine Coast for the last 23 years has instilled a profound amount of respect and passion for Maine’s pristine coastal areas. You might know Dan better as the Marine Resource Office and Harbormaster in Brunswick, Maine. He founded the Maine Shellfish Warden Association, which has active roles on the statewide shellfish advisory panels. Serving as the Brunswick Harbor Master, Dan continues to advocate and help develop Brunswick’s coastal waters management plan, including management of the wild shellfisheries.
Dan is also the guy knee deep in mud helping local High School students plant and seed Maquoit Bay with soft shell clams. And, he keeps a close eye on the health of the wild shellfish in the area as an associate scientist at a local consulting company as well as at his own small environmental monitoring firm. You could say he knows the local waters and its shellfish better than just about anyone else in town. Adding one more thing to his increasing list of tasks, Dan’s now the guy farming oysters with Doug and his own two sons, Derek and Jesse. A motto Dan lives by is, “Its never the wrong time to do the right thing”.
Derek and Jesse have tagged along with their dad ever since they can remember. Over the years the two boys would work side by side with dad, helping with local conservation, reservation, and shellfish propagation projects. When they were old enough, they both got student shellfish licenses and began digging for clams in local waters. Jesse just graduated from Brunswick High School and plans to attend the University of Maine Sea Grant aquaculture training in the summer. Derek attends Roger Williams University with a focus on legal studies and a minor in Marine Biology. Both boys work throughout the summer engineering and constructing oyster gear as well as tending the oyster farms.
Helping with the Marketing of Mere Point Oyster Company (MPOC), Bill is a proud partner of Dan and Doug’s, having joined the team in early 2018. Bill brings passion, humor and leadership to the team.
Bill brings 35+ years of medical device experience (which we know, has nothing to do with growing oysters) yet he knows the challenges and rewards of growing a small business. For the first half of his career he worked at Johnson and Johnson, Boston Scientific and Procter and Gamble. Most recently, Bill having served as CEO of several medical start-up companies, has a wide range of experience in global commercialization, market development, branding and all facets of sales and marketing activities.
In the next several years, as Mere point Oyster company begins to commercialize up and down the east coast, Bill is working with the team to identify product positioning, market opportunities, and distribution strategies.
Bill loves to be on the waters of Casco Bay and has done so for the last 40+ years. Bill’s wife, Heather, grew up in Falmouth Foreside Maine and her family had a summer cottage at Mere Point. Bill and Heather purchased the property back in the early 2000’s and spend a considerable amount of time there throughout the year. Bill and Heather have three children, Hannah, Henry and Herbie. All three live and work in the Boston area and spend a significant amount of time in Maine as well.
With Bill’s commercial background and his love of the waters of Maine Bill looks forward to a long and enjoyable journey with MPOC.