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June 12, 2018

Briana Warner named CEO of Ocean Approved

Courtesy / Island Institute
Courtesy / Island Institute
Briana Warner will be leaving her job as senior community development officer at the Island Institute to become CEO of Ocean Approved Inc. She will succeed CEO Paul Dobbins on July 2.

Ocean Approved Inc. announced today that its board of directors has unanimously chosen Briana Warner as the company's next chief executive officer. Warner is currently serving as senior community development officer at the Island Institute and will succeed CEO Paul Dobbins on July 2.

Dobbins is leaving the Portland-based company to begin a new job in Washington, D.C.

Founded in 2006, Ocean Approved farms, processes and sells kelp and kelp products.

According to its website, it not only harvests kelp from its own farms it also works with farms operated by nine fishermen along the Maine coast. It's currently in a growth mode, focusing on responding to market demand by expanding its processing capacity and entering into buying contracts with more kelp farmers in Maine, according to a "success story" posted by CEI on its website.

"I am thrilled to be part of this exciting new industry in Maine," Warner said. "Edible sea vegetables are healthy for the ocean and consumers and have endless possibilities for culinary innovation. I am excited to be stepping into a company that makes delicious and healthy products. I am also motivated by Ocean Approved's community-based supply chain, sourcing its line-grown seaweed directly from Maine's hard-working fisherman."

In a telephone interview with Mainebiz this morning, Warner said she sees her new venture with Ocean Approved as a natural progression of work she's been doing at Island Institute, the Rockland-based nonprofit that is working to sustain island and coastal communities in Maine. During her tenure at the Island Institute, she created a program that helped fishermen diversify into seaweed and shellfish aquaculture and is looking forward to working closely with many of those same fishermen at Ocean Approved.

Whether it's growing oysters, mussels or various forms of seaweed, Warner said aquaculture increasingly is providing opportunities for Maine fishermen to create for themselves "a diversified income stream."

Warner added that she's looking forward to returning to the food sector.

Prior to joining the Island Institute she started, owned and then sold the Maine Pie Line, a highly acclaimed bakery that sold sweet and savory pies and created jobs for newly resettled refugees in Maine. And before that, she served as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service in Libya, Guinea and the U.S. Mission to the European Union.

Dobbins moving on

"I am thrilled to see Briana take the lead at Ocean Approved," said outgoing CEO Paul Dobbins. "Given her track record of success at the Island Institute, broad industry contacts, and performance as an Ocean Approved board member, she is well positioned to take the company to the next level.''

Dobbins is stepping down from management of Ocean Approved and will be moving to Washington, D.C., to join a nonprofit. In his new role he will be helping to identify trends in marine algae aquaculture to sequester carbon while providing critical food and food ingredients that reduce key environmental impacts.

Warner will join a seasoned management team with sales, marketing, processing and food safety experience. While the initial focus will be to continue to grow food service distribution and sales, she will spearhead the effort to bring Ocean Approved into the retail sector and innovate new products that will help expand the market for sea vegetables in the U.S.

"I've been brought on to focus on expanding into retail markets," Warner said. "I saw this company as being an incredible innovator … It's time to look into the the retail market."

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