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Lamoine to intervene in Frenchman Bay aquaculture application

March 21, 2022


American Aquafarms proposal would use closed-net pens to contain fish and effluent.

Voters in the town of Lamoine, in Hancock County, are the latest to take a stance against a proposed salmon farming operation in Frenchman Bay.

All but five of 60 residents at a town meeting last week voted to intervene in the permitting process undertaken by American Aquafarms.\

The Norway-based firm proposes to lease two sites between Bar Harbor and Schoodic Peninsula to install 15 “closed pens” plus an operations barge at each site. The company's goal for the farm is to eventually produce 30,000 metric tons, or 66 million pounds, of salmon annually.

“This was a vote in support of our lobstermen and women who fish out of Lamoine State Park,” Select Board Member Kathleen Rybarz said in a news release.

Rybarz is also president of Friends of Frenchman Bay, a member of the Frenchman Bay United coalition that is leading the fight against salmon farm.

“American Aquafarms threatens local jobs in fishing and tourism,” she said. “Its unprecedented levels of air, water, noise and light pollution will destroy the natural environment and quality of life that draws so many people to this area.”

Keith Decker, American Aquafarms' CEO, has said that large-scale farming of Atlantic salmon would help keep working waterfronts working as wild fisheries decline.

The Lamoine vote followed a petition, opposing the project, signed 100 local fishermen and presented earlier this month to the Gouldsboro select board.

The towns of Bar Harbor and Sorrento last year also voted to intervene, and the towns of Mount Desert and Hancock have sent letters to Gov. Janet Mills opposing the project. The Hancock Select Board has put the question of intervening on the warrant for its town meeting on May 10.

In a Feb. 16 letter to Mills, the Hancock Select Board said the project “will threaten our local commercial fishery and the livelihood of our citizens” and that “ocean based salmon farming on this scale is environmentally unsound and would have a profound negative impact on the ecology of Frenchman Bay and beyond.”

The town of Gouldsboro, where the project’s proposed hatchery and processing plant would be located in the village of Prospect Harbor, voted last November to impose a 180-day moratorium on large-scale aquaculture projects.

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