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Downeast Salmon Federation Opposes American Aquafarms Frenchman Bay Leases

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Commissioner Keliher

Maine Department of Marine Resources

Attn: Aquaculture Division 21 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333-0021

July 7, 2021

Comments on American Aquafarms two proposed standard leases in Frenchman Bay.

Commissioner Keliher,

For 40 years the Downeast Salmon Federation has worked with communities to restore Atlantic salmon and their home rivers in Eastern Maine. We, alongside the Maine DMR, have invested countless hours and millions of dollars to make sure that future generations will once again see our rivers filled with wild Atlantic salmon. We ourselves have grown millions of salmon in two conservation hatcheries on the East Machias and Pleasant Rivers. The wild Atlantic salmon we raise are the right fish for Maine waters.

Since October 2020 we have watched with interest the proposal from American Aquafarms as they attempt to bring their new technologies to Maine waters. Much of their proposal seems to address many of the problems that plague traditional open net pen projects on our coast. However, the devil is in the details. So far we have failed to have our basic questions answered—either at the several meetings and scoping sessions our staff, board, and members have attended or in the application currently under con sideration by MDMR for permitting. Based on the lack of basic information we remain skeptical that this project and the experimental techniques proposed will be protective of wild Atlantic salmon and the other native fisheries of Frenchman Bay. Therefore at this time we must voice our opposition to these leases.

Frenchman Bay is Critical Habitat for millions of migrating and resident fish. Fish which are coevolved with the wild Atlantic salmon. The rivers and streams that flow into the bay are also Critical Habitat for a number of these species. The ecosystems of the bay and nearby rivers and streams are linked together and their health is essential to meeting our goal of restored rivers and wild fish in Eastern Maine.

Thank you,

Dwayne Shaw

Executive Director

Downeast Salmon Federation

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