Downeast Institute is a marine research laboratory and education center featuring a large shellfish research and production hatchery.
Maine’s fishing families and communities rely on the ability to sustain and enhance marine resources.
In the mid-1980s, fishermen and community members from six towns in rural Washington county became concerned about a decrease in soft-shell clam harvests. They joined forces with research scientist Brian Beal to work together to learn how to spawn clams, raise larvae, and grow them into seed clams that can be planted in mudflats. This effort initiated Maine’s first public shellfish hatchery and founded the organization that was to become the Downeast Institute (DEI).
For over 30 years DEI has continued to conduct applied research on commercially important shellfish species along the entire coast of Maine.
DEI exists to support fishermen and the health and resilience of Maine’s coastal economy by generating new knowledge about the marine environment. We work directly with community and industry partners to discover and develop methods and techniques to adapt fisheries to the changing marine environment and create new opportunities for fishermen and entrepreneurs in Downeast Maine and beyond.
DEI is the easternmost marine research laboratory and education center in the United States.
The pristine, cold water location and state-of-the-art venue provide exceptional capacity for scientists, marine educators, and their teams. As the University of Maine at Machias Marine Science Field Station and local experimental classroom, DEI enriches the education of youth, university students, and the visiting public. DEI cultures commercially important shellfish seed, restoring and creating economic opportunities for harvesters, aquaculturists, and other entrepreneurs throughout coastal Maine and beyond.
Our current facility in Beals, which includes a commercial-scale marine research hatchery, running seawater labs, and educational classroom and housing facilities, is available for scientists and others who are passionate about making discoveries in the marine environment.