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FRENCHMAN BAY UNITED HAILS REJECTION OF AMERICAN AQUAFARMS APPLICATION


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For immediate release

April 21, 2022


FRENCHMAN BAY UNITED HAILS REJECTION OF AMERICAN AQUAFARMS APPLICATION

The coalition opposing the proposed industrial salmon farm says the fight will continue.


LAMOINE, Maine – The group that for the past year has been leading the fight against a proposed industrial salmon farm near Acadia National Park hailed the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ decision yesterday to end consideration of the American Aquafarms’ lease applications for two sixty-acre sites in Frenchman Bay.


“Commissioner Keliher made the right decision,” said Frenchman Bay United board president Henry Sharpe. “We hope that the company has finally gotten the message that they are not welcome here and that it’s time to pull the plug on this destructive and ill-conceived project once and for all.”


The DMR Commissioner made the decision to kill the applications because American Aquafarms has repeatedly failed to supply the Department with the required information for a qualified source of fish eggs. The company can re-apply in the future if they resolve the issue, but according to Keliher they will be starting the process all over again, likely adding two or three years to the permitting process.


Sharpe cautioned that the DMR decision, while welcomed, was based on a technicality, not the merits of the project, and that FBU and other groups must continue to make the scientific and economic case against the project.


“It has been clear from the start that this project will create massive water and air pollution and will hurt the local economy through its adverse impacts on the lobster fishery, small-scale aquaculture operations already in the bay, and the many tourism and recreation jobs. All of these depend on a clean, unspoiled bay,” said FBU Treasurer Jeri Bowers, who is also president of Friends of Eastern Bay, a member of the Frenchman Bay United coalition.


“If the company decides to re-apply for leases at some point in the future, we will be more than ready to press our case that they do not comply with the other DMR lease criteria” she added.


Sharpe and Bowers noted that FBU also has presented detailed information to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which is considering American Aquafarms waste discharge applications. Modeling created by Dr. Chris Kincaid, a physical oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography suggests that because the proposed farms would discharge of over 4.1 billion gallons of waste per day, large areas of the inner bay would exceed the regulatory threshold for nitrogen concentrations within just 60 days.


Marine biologists on FBU’s team suggest that these high nitrogen discharges, when added to a bay already showing high nitrogen concentrations, would be likely to kill eelgrass populations, advance eutrophication of the bay, and cause an increase in harmful algal blooms and neurotoxins known to cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP).


In addition to pushing for state agencies to deny permits for the project, an effort to strengthen local ordinances is underway in the town of Gouldsboro, within whose boundaries the pens would lie and where a proposed hatchery and fish processing plant is proposed for the village of Prospect Harbor.


After enacting a 180-day moratorium on large-scale aquaculture projects last fall, the town is pressing ahead with plans to enact a comprehensive set of ordinances that would regulate such operations on land and local waters. The moratorium is expected to be extended for another 180 days in a vote next week.


“Our town deserves a say in whether projects like this are in our best interest,” said Jackie Weaver of Friends of Schoodic Peninsula, another member of the FBU coalition. “Our lobstermen don’t want this and most people in town are dead set against it because of the pollution, the constant truck traffic it will generate, the strain on town resources like our groundwater, and the local jobs it threatens. In addition, the people behind this project have refused to meet with us, and we simply don’t trust them.”


“This proposal has been a wake-up call for all of us who live and work on the bay,” said Kathleen Rybarz, president of coalition member Friends of Frenchman Bay. “Regardless of what American Aquafarms decides to do next, we are continuing our efforts make sure that this project and any other like it never gets built in Frenchman Bay or anywhere else along the Maine coast.”


Rybarz, who is a member of the selectboard in Lamoine, said her town is also considering changes to its ordinances, that would give the town more say over large-scale aquaculture projects.


“Unfortunately, Maine’s existing rules and regulations have set the table for projects like this,” said Crystal Canney, executive director of Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation, an FBU member. “We’ve allowed foreign investors like those behind American Aquafarms to think that Maine is a cheap and easy place to build something that wouldn’t even be allowed in their own country. We’ve got to change that, and hopefully the rejection of this project can be the start.”


Media contacts

Ted O’Meara

Frenchman Bay United

207-653-2392

ted@tedomearacommunications.com

Crystal Canney

Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation

207-615-5968

protectmaine@gmail.com

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