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Protecting Maine's Coastal Waters

Download Frenchman Bay United's Call to Action:

FBU Call to Action 2023
Download PDF • 388KB

Raising finfish in net-pens is coming under greater scrutiny around the world

because of its track record of devastating impacts on the environment, other

marine species, and local economies. The practice is already banned in

Argentina and all West Coast states, with Washington the latest to end the

practice last fall. The Canadian government is planning to phase out netpens

in British Columbia over the next two years.

All of this means that Maine will face increasing pressure from foreign

investors seeking to exploit our clean waters, lax regulations and low fees.

A case in point: in the fall of 2021, American Aquafarms, a company backed by

Norwegian investors and led by a man previously convicted of financial fraud,

proposed one of the largest industrial net-pen salmon farms in the world in

the waters of Frenchman Bay just offshore from Acadia National Park.

The project, unprecedented for Maine and not even remotely permissible in

the investors’ home country of Norway, posed a grave and immediate threat

to local jobs and the quality of life in communities around the bay. It would

have spewed 4.1 billion gallons of untreated effluent into the bay each day,

disrupted lobster fishing and small-scale aquaculture, and irreparably

harmed the area’s vital tourism economy.

Frenchman Bay United, a broad coalition of individuals and groups, came

together to fight this irresponsible and destructive proposal. While permit

applications for the America Aquafarms are no longer under consideration

(but are expected to be filed again soon), this proposal exposed serious

weaknesses in Maine’s regulatory and oversight capabilities. We need to act now to protect Maine’s coastal waters, one of our most

valuable and productive assets. We are proposing the following immediate legislative and regulatory changes organized around three main goals:

  • Impose a two-year moratorium on new ocean-based finfish farms

  • Enact stronger protections for coastal waters, including stricter nutrient loading standards to ensure the long-term abundance and diversity of bay ecosystems and thriving eelgrass populations, better discharge modelling, strict regulation of diesel fuel transport and storage, and lower biomass and stocking densities for net-pens

  • Ensure local control in fish farm approvals

We hope that you will join us in supporting these important initiatives, which

are explained in greater detail below.

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