MAA Office Staff
Executive Director: Sebastian Belle
Administrative Assistant: Rhonda Cook
Project Manager: Mike Pietrak
Sebastian Belle: Sebastian Belle began his career as a commercial fisherman, working his way through university as a mate on offshore lobster boats. Currently Mr. Belle is the Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA), a private non-profit association representing Maine shellfish and finfish growers. Prior to joining the Maine Aquaculture Association, Mr. Belle was the state aquaculture coordinator, working for the Maine Department of Marine Resources. In addition to his role as MAA Executive Director,
Mr. Belle is president of Econ-Aqua, and a founding partner of TAAG. Econ-Aqua is consulting firm specializing in the farm management, financial due diligence and risk analysis and control. TAAG is an international consulting and investment firm specializing in aquaculture projects. Prior to founding TAAG, Mr. Belle was project manager of the Bluefin Tuna Project at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Before joining the aquarium, Mr. Belle was operations manager for Connors Aquaculture Inc. in Eastport, Maine, one of the largest Atlantic salmon farms in the United States. Mr. Belle holds degrees in fisheries biology and agricultural economics. Mr. Belle served as a technical consultant on over 20 major commercial aquaculture ventures for investment groups from Europe and North and South America. Before returning to North America in 1989, Mr. Belle spent four years managing a commercial scale aquaculture research and development foundation in Norway.
Rhonda Cook: Rhonda holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Technology in Education and Business Administration from Thomas College. Currently, she oversees the financial records for administrative and project accounts, prepares the financial monitoring reports, develop the overall layout and design of the quarterly newsletter, acts as intermediary for the Executive Director, oversees and coordinates the educational outreach venues. Rhonda enjoys hot air ballooning, traveling, snowmobiling, rafting, skiing, biking, cooking and gardening.
Rhonda is a member of the American Society of Notaries, Bearded Collie Rescue League, Registered Maine Guide, and is a Licensed Travel Agent.
Mike Pietrak: I began working for the Maine Aquaculture Association after completing a Masters of Science from the University of Maine in Marine biology. My main role at the association as project manager is to oversee any research grants that are administered by the association and to seek new areas of research where the association can help advance the aquaculture industry in the state of Maine. To accomplish this I spend time conducting research on member farms, bringing current scientific knowledge and understanding to members, and lending a helping hand on member farms. Currently I am involved in developing solutions to minimize the risk of aquaculture escapes, finding alternative and sustainable methods of reducing the nutrients in hatchery effluent and public education.