Opponents of industrial salmon farm near Acadia Nat'l Park urge Int. Sec. Haaland to oppose project
Updated: Aug 25, 2021
(GOULDSBORO, Maine) – Following a recent visit to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, opponents of a massive industrial aquaculture project proposed for Prospect Harbor and nearby Frenchman Bay have sent a letter urging her to oppose the project or at least join with the many conservation groups and individuals who have already asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project.
The USACE coordinates input from other federal agencies and is the only federal agency required to issue a permit for the proposed fish farm. An EIS is the most comprehensive and stringent environmental review that a project like this can undergo.
“We were proud to have Secretary Haaland visit our community,” said Jacqueline Weaver of Gouldsboro, who signed the letter on behalf of Friends of Schoodic Peninsula. “Now that she has seen for herself how inappropriate Frenchman Bay is for an industrial project like this, we hope that she will use her considerable influence in Washington to help us.”
The letter, signed by Weaver and representatives of several other groups that are members of the Frenchman Bay United coalition opposing the American Aquafarms development, tells Sec. Haaland, “We would welcome your opposition to this project, but at the very least we hope that you join the many land trusts, conservation groups, fishing communities, businesspeople and others who have requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the only federal permitting authority for this project, conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement under the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act.”
The letter notes that the thirty 150’ diameter salmon pens proposed for the bay will displace those who fish for lobsters and other species in this area, threaten the bay’s ecosystem with billions of gallon of effluent from fish waste and feed, harm other small aquaculture operations that grow oysters, mussels and kelp, and disrupt life around the bay with the noise and air pollution from diesel generators that will run all day and night to power scores of pumps and lights.
It also references Haaland's visit to Schoodic Point by noting that large ships carrying diesel fuel, fish food and fish waste will travel every day through some of the state’s most pristine waters off Schoodic Point on their way to and from the pens, destroying lobster gear along the way and disrupting the beauty and tranquility that we know you experienced there.
Secretary Haaland is the nation’s first Native American Cabinet member, and the letter references the ancestral ties of the Wabanaki people to the Acadia region and Frenchman Bay, quoting a 2014 article in the Friends of Acadia Journal that described Frenchman Bay as “a critical borderland of sorts in the complex relationships that developed between the Wabanaki, French, and English.”
Henry Sharpe of Sorrento, another signer of the letter and a design engineer who has worked with and taught oceanographers said that the groups are seeking Secretary Haaland’s assistance because current state rules and regulations are inadequate for consideration of a project of this scale and prevent many stakeholders around the bay from having a meaningful voice in the permit approval process.
“What we have seen so far from American Aquafarms is a complete lack of scientifically validated information to justify placing these experimental salmon pens in Frenchman Bay. No project using this technology has ever been attempted on such a large scale, and our research indicates that it would not even be allowed in American Aquafarms home country of Norway,” Sharpe said.
“Instead,” he added, “all of the evidence clearly demonstrates that this project will foul our waters with fish waste and effluent, create massive amount of air, noise and light pollution, and take jobs away from fishermen, small aquaculture farms, tourism-related businesses and many others whose livelihoods depend on a clean, unspoiled natural environment.”
A copy of the letter has also been sent to Governor Janet Mills and members of the Maine Congressional Delegation.