Frenchman Bay United hails rejection of American Aquafarms application
April 21, 2022
The coalition opposing the proposed industrial salmon farm says the fight will continue.
GOULDSBORO, 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
Crystal Canney Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation 207-615-5968 firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement from Frenchman Bay United on Maine DEP’s return of American Aquafarms’ wastewater discharge applications
We are pleased that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has returned American Aquafarms’ wastewater discharge applications to the company based on the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ decision earlier this week to end consideration of the company’s lease applications.
This means that American Aquafarms no longer has any permit applications under consideration in Maine for its industrial salmon farm. Based on the company’s failure to meet even the most basic criteria for consideration of its application, we are asking its investors to end the project completely.
Over the past year and a-half we have built a powerful and broad grassroots coalition against this project. We have developed modeling that demonstrates the devasting impacts of this project on Frenchman Bay and we have enlisted a diverse group of individuals and partner organization to help us make the compelling case for denying the project. Our coalition continues to grow in size and strength.
While we applaud the decisions of the Maine DEP and DMR, if American Aquafarms unwisely decides to pursue this project further, we remain fully prepared to defeat it on its total lack of merit.
April 21, 2022
Elizabeth Ransom Ransom Consulting, LLC 400 Commercial St., Suite 404 Portland, ME. 04101
Elizabeth.Ransom@ransomenv.com Sent via electronic mail Delivery confirmation requested RE: American Aquafarms Applications for Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MEPDES) Permit and Maine Waste Discharge License (WDL) Applications FB01 #ME0037567 / #W009242-6G-A-N FB02 #ME0037575 / #W009243-6G-A-N Return of MEPDES/WDL Applications
Dear Ms. Ransom:
The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) has received the letter dated April 19, 2022, from Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Keliher. In this letter, the Commissioner states that, pursuant to Research and aquaculture leases, 12 M.R.S. § 6072(5) and Aquaculture lease regulations, Ch. 2.08 (6)(D), no further action will be taken on the current aquaculture lease application submitted by American Aquafarms to DMR.
In response to this action by DMR, the Department is exercising its discretion to return the above listed applications for a Waste Discharge License accepted as complete for processing by the Department on June 9, 2021. See 06-096 C.M.R. Ch. 2, § 11(D) (“If the project requires a submerged lands lease from the State, evidence must be supplied that the lease has been issued, or that an application is pending.”).
If it submits a new application to DMR in the future, American Aquafarms may reapply to the Department for a Waste Discharge License.
If you have any questions regarding the matter, please feel free to call Cindy Dionne at 207-446-3820.
Melanie Loyzim Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection
April 21, 2022 Page 2 of 2
ec: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, MEDEP Patrick Keliher, Commissioner, DMR U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alex Rosenberg, USEPA Anna Harris, USFWS Brian Kavanah, MEDEP Gregg Wood, MEDEP Kevin Martin, MEDEP Laura Jensen, AAG Rob Mohlar, MEDEP Angela Brewer, MEDEP Henry Sharpe, Frenchman’s Bay United David Kallin, Drummond Woodsum American Aquafarms Interested Parties List