British worms are wriggling their way across the Atlantic to plug a gap in the supply for fishermen and fill the coffers of a University of Newcastle spin-off company, writes Esther Ingram.
Seabait Ltd, a high-tech worm-farming venture created by Newcastle scientists, has launched a subsidiary in Franklin, Maine, to supply the bait market and food for South America's fish and shrimp farms.
Seabait has established the US operation with a $485,000 (£305,000) development loan from the Maine Technology Institute.
The new breeding technologies include maintaining the worms in optimal breeding conditions using hot water from a nearby power station and cryogenics to freeze worms for storage and transport.
Peter Olive, a professor at Newcastle's School of Marine Science and Technology and co-founder of Seabait, said the methods were "arguably more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly and simply better" than traditional methods.