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Opposition to industrial salmon farm near Acadia grows

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Bar Harbor Council hears from local fishermen and votes to intervene in review process

For Immediate Release

June 21, 2021

(BAR HARBOR, Maine) – With Bar Harbor lobstermen solidly opposing a massive salmon farm proposed for Frenchman Bay, the Bar Harbor town council voted unanimously June15th to seek intervener status in the state review of American Aquafarms lease applications to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Intervener status, if granted by Maine DMR, means that an individual or entity such as a municipality, can more fully participate in the formal review of lease applications, including presenting testimony and expert witnesses, questioning the applicants and its representatives and commenting on draft decisions.

Prior to the vote, the town council was presented with an opposition statement signed by 26 lobstermen who fish out of Bar Harbor. “This project is completely wrong for Maine, said petition organizer and local fisherman Jim Hanscom. “This is a heavily lobstered area, and we will be speaking out regarding the impact it will have on all the fisheries, including lobster, halibut, scallop and shrimp. The Department of Marine Resources has several criteria it looks at when reviewing leases and one of them is the impact on competing uses. If DMR listens to the lobstermen and women, this lease should be denied.”

Members who signed the lobster petition join a growing chorus of individuals and groups who oppose leasing 120 acres of Frenchman Bay to American Aquafarms, a company backed by Norwegian investors and led by a man convicted of defrauding investors in a previous venture.

Ted O’Meara of Save the Bay, part of the Frenchman Bay United coalition of opponents added, “Not only will it hurt the fishing and lobstering communities, but the billions of gallons of wastewater it will pour into the bay, along with the constant noise from massive diesel generators that will power pumps and lights, will have a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality businesses that are so important to the local economy.”

On Wednesday, American Aquafarms will hold a required scoping session to discuss its draft lease applications to Maine DMR. Friends of Frenchman Bay President Kathleen Rybarz said, “If this session is anything like the others we have attended, questions won’t be answered by American Aquafarms and they will limit our time, but we will still be sending a loud and clear message that this project is not welcome. This company cannot continue to dodge important questions about its untested technology and the impact that a project this size will have on our bay.”

The scoping session will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, June 23, starting at 4:30 p.m. Rybarz encourages the public to attend at:

Passcode: 603686

Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation executive director Crystal Canney said, “American Aquafarms is benefitting from weak rules and regulations at the Department of Marine Resources. The state is pushing industrial-scale aquaculture at any cost and is refusing to even have a conversation about how to best manage our coastal waters, one of this state’s greatest assets. This shortsightedness means if the American Aquafarms project is approved it could grow from 120 acres to an aggregate of 1,000 acres. If it’s not approved, there is significant work to be done. We will continue to see this battle playing out all along the Maine coast because the table has been set to benefit large industrial-scale projects at the expense of everyone else – small aquaculturists, lobstermen and women and those who recreate on the water.”

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