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American Aquafarms buys Maine Fair Trade facility

Letitia Baldwin May 1, 2022

Ellsworth American

Original article GOULDSBORO – East Coast Seafood Group’s Chief Executive Officer, William Blais, confirmed late Friday that the company had sold to American Aquafarms its Maine Fair Trade Lobster property in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor.

“Real estate deal closed today,” Blais reported in an April 29 email. In a prior email, he noted “MFTL [Maine Fair Trade Lobster] has been under contract for well over a year.”

News of the expected sale of the century-plus, seafood-processing facility follows Gouldsboro Selectmen voted 4-0 Thursday night to extend its present finfish aquaculture moratorium for another six months. Both Gouldsboro Town Manager Eve Wilkinson and Planning Board Chairman Ray Jones said the extra time was needed to further review and refine a draft aquaculture licensing ordinance and possible amendments to the town’s site plan, land use and other ordinances to better regulate industrial-scale, aquaculture operations on land in town such as American Aquafarms’ project.

First imposed in mid-November last year, in a nearly unanimous vote by 200 voters at a special town meeting, Gouldsboro’s Finfish Aquaculture Development moratorium was intended to give the Planning Board and town attorney time lease more time to review the town’s existing ordinances and draft amendments enabling the community to better regulate large, finfish aquaculture-related activities. During the six-month period, the issuance of municipal permits for building and construction associated with large-scale, finfish aquaculture development is prohibited.

“This has been an extraordinary thing,” Select Board Chairman Dana Rice commented Thursday, referring to the controversy over and proceedings regarding American Aquafarms’ proposed plan to raise 66 million Atlantic salmon in Frenchman Bay and daily discharge of 1.4 billion gallons of diluted wastewater into the 14-mile inlet.

Since mid-October in 2020, American Aquafarms has sought to raise 66 million pounds of Atlantic salmon off Bald Rock Ledge and Long Porcupine Island in Frenchman Bay. Last week, the Maine departments of Marine Resources and Environmental Protection terminated the Norwegian-backed company’s lease and wastewater permit applications. Regulators cited the company’s failure to furnish a qualified source of Atlantic salmon eggs and juvenile fish and comply with state genetic standards and requirements as grounds for the two DMR applications’ termination. The DEP’s dismissal of the two wastewater discharge license applications was based on the fact the proposed Bald Rock Ledge and Long Porcupine Island sites were no longer in the running as a result of the DMR applications’ termination.

“We fully intend to carry our opposition forward,” Friends of Schoodic co-founder and Gouldsboro resident Jackie Weaver told Selectmen Thursday night. “We are still building what is already a very strong case against this project. The fight is far from over.”

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