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FBU Newsletter: An Update on the Opposition to American Aquafarms

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

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Friends of Acadia adds a powerful voice to opposition

Friends of Acadia, a highly respected organization whose mission “preserves, protects, and promotes stewardship of the outstanding natural beauty, ecological vitality, and distinctive cultural resources of Acadia National Park and surrounding communities,” has joined the growing opposition to American Aquafarms.

In a recent op-ed published in the Maine Sunday Telegram and local papers, Friends of Acadia President and CEO David MacDonald wrote that American Aquafarms proposed salmon farms in Frenchman Bay “would be an industrial use at unprecedented scale and would rely on unproven technology. They would permanently degrade the park’s scenic vistas, clean air, natural soundscapes and visitor experience.”

MacDonald pledged that “Friends of Acadia will be working alongside the National Park Service, the National Parks and Conservation Association, Frenchman Bay United and the many other local stakeholders that will be urging these agencies to deny American Aquafarms the permits needed to operate in Frenchman Bay.”

Two more towns say no to American Aquafarms

Sorrento residents at their annual meeting last night voted to oppose the American Aquafarms’ project and support the select board in seeking intervenor status in deliberations on the project’s lease applications with the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR).

Last week, the select board in the town of Mount Desert asked their town manager to draft a letter to state officials expressing the town’s opposition to the project. According to the Mount Desert Islander, select board chair John Macauley said, “It’s going to affect the park. It’s going to affect the things we love the most here.”

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the letter at the next select board meeting on October 4. Sorrento and Mount Desert join Bar Harbor, whose town council voted unanimously to seek intervenor status in June after local lobstermen presented them with a petition opposing the salmon farms.

Other area towns are expected to take similar action in the weeks ahead.

DEP says no permit violations in massive die-off

In a special alert last week we told you about a massive die-off of more than 100,000 adult salmon at Cooke Aquaculture’s Black Island salmon farm (just south of Mount Desert Island), reported here in the The Quietside Journal.

Yesterday the Maine DEP totally exonerated Cooke of any permit violations, apparently based solely on data provided by Cooke and a DEP inspection after Cooke had removed the dead fish and cleaned the pens. While the DEP found no violations, it also showed no interest in finding out what actually did cause nearly 116,000 fish to die or if whatever killed the fish posed any threat to other fish, like lobsters, and other marine organisms in these waters.

FBU and our coalition partner, Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation, immediately responded to the report with this news release expressing serious concerns about the lack of oversight of large-scale aquaculture by state government, especially as Maine considers massive projects like American Aquafarms. We are still awaiting the Department of Marine Resources’ response to questions posed in our letter on September 8.

Gouldsboro to vote on moratorium

Following a public hearing by the planning board on Tuesday, Oct. 19, Gouldsboro residents will get a chance to vote on a moratorium that would halt consideration of large-scale aquaculture developments like American Aquafarms for at least 180 days while the town reviews and updates relevant local ordinances.

The moratorium ordinance was written with the help of attorney Tim Pease from the Bangor firm Rudman Winchell. According to The Ellsworth American, the moratorium “gives board members greater time to review the town’s shoreland zoning, land use zoning, solid waste and harbor ordinances and comprehensive plan in relation to open-ocean finfish farms seeking to locate a processing plant, hatchery or other infrastructure on land in town.”

Our coalition partner Friends of Schoodic Peninsula (FOSP) supports the moratorium and will be working to turn out voters. “This project is unprecedented in scale for Gouldsboro and is very different from any prior use of the former Stinson cannery site in Prospect Harbor," said Jacqueline Weaver, a leader of FOSP. “This will give our town time to get its ordinances in order and ensure that the Planning Board has the proper tools to protect the health and well-being of our citizens."

Please request consolidation, public hearing

Below is a list of things anyone can do at any time to help, but here’s a very specific request from FBU Board President Henry Sharpe:

Please write to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Department of Marine Resources asking them to consolidate all American Aquafarms’ permit applications within their departments. “We need to be able to see the total impact of the project, both in the water and on land, says Henry. “Allowing the company to proceed piecemeal hides the full magnitude of what we are facing.”

Please also demand that the Maine DEP change its decision not to hold public hearings on American Aquafarms. This project is just too large – and the threats too serious – to not give Maine people every opportunity to weigh in. Addresses for both departments and Governor Mills are below under “Key agencies.”

Ways you can help As always there are many ways to help:

  • Make sure you participate in public meetings and reach out to local officials

  • Provide written comments on all applications once they are filed

  • Write your state legislators, Governor Mills, Maine’s Congressional delegation, and area legislators. Your voice matters!

  • Write letters to the editor of local and statewide newspapers.

  • Talk to friends and neighbors.

  • Follow us on social media and share with your networks.

  • Donate money, time, and expertise to support this effort.

And sign up for future updates by joining our mailing list here.

Key agencies Maine Department of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher, Commissioner 21 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jay L. Clement, Senior Project Manager Maine Project Office 442 Civic Center Drive, Suite 350 Augusta, Maine 04330 Maine Department of Environmental Protection Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner 17 State House Station 28 Tyson Drive Augusta, Maine 04333-0017 Governor and Congressional Delegation Governor T. Janet Mills 1 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 207-287-3531 U.S. Senator Angus King 202 Harlow St., Suite 20350 Bangor, ME 04401 Phone: (207) 945-8000 U.S Senator Susan Collins 202 Harlow Street, Room 20100 Bangor, ME 04401 Main: (207) 945-0417 U.S. Rep. Jared Golden 6 State Street, Suite 101 Bangor, ME 04401 (207) 249-7400 U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree 2 Portland Fish Pier, Suite 304 Portland, ME 04101 (207) 774-5019 State Legislators who represent towns on the bay Hancock County State Sen. Louis Luchini P.O. Box 1311 Ellsworth, ME 04605 (207) 664-4699 Gouldsboro, Hancock, Sorrento, Sullivan, Winter Harbor State Rep. William “Billy Bob” Faulkingham P.O. Box 121 Winter Harbor, ME 04693 Cell: (207) 460-6967 Bar Harbor, Lamoine, Mt. Desert State Rep. Lynne Williams 13 Albert Meadow Bar Harbor, ME 04609 Cell: (207) 266-6327 Trenton Rep. Nicole Grohoski P.O. Box 1732 Ellsworth, ME 04605 Cell: (207) 358-8333 Town governments News Media Bangor Daily News (250-word limit for letters) Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (250-word limit for letters) The Ellsworth American (350-word limit for letters) Mount Desert Islander (350-word limit for letters, 500 for op-eds)

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