Help us stop this dangerous and destructive industrial fish farm!
“Voices of Frenchman Bay, Part One” features Graham Platner, owner-operator of Frenchman Bay Oyster Company, and Aaron Dority, Executive Director of Frenchman Bay Conservancy. This video was directed by Chek Wingo, and written and produced by Kelsey Buckley and Chek Wingo. From Frenchman Bay Conservancy
American Aquafarms is an “American” company in name only. It is backed by Norwegian investors and led by a man convicted of defrauding investors in a previous venture. The company plans to raise 66 million pounds of salmon annually in thirty 150’ diameter pens employing questionable and experimental technology that has never been used on this scale. In fact, this project would not even be allowed in Norway.
The pens will be located at two 60-acre lease sites in the bay – one off Bald Rock and the other off Long Porcupine Island – an area larger than 90 football fields. They will be supported by a land-based hatchery and processing facility in Prospect Harbor and up to three large ships and many smaller boats making daily trips to the pens.
Below are some of the major reasons why this project must be stopped.
It Will Hurt The Lobster Fishery
The dozens of men and women who fish the bay and contribute to Hancock County’s $128M lobster catch are deeply concerned about their livelihoods and the loss of more than 120 acres of prime fishing ground, as well as the water pollution and disease that will harm lobsters and other species in the bay. In addition, ship traffic will destroy gear and further reduce fishing ground.
Industrial Development Has No Place Next To Acadia National Park
Millions of people from all around the world visit Acadia National Park and Downeast Maine each year. This massive industrial fish farm, located right between the two sections of the Park on Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula, will destroy viewsheds and recreational activities associated with the Acadia experience. Furthermore, the daily ship traffic hauling diesel fuel and fish waste between Prospect Harbor and the salmon pens will pass right by Schoodic Point and many of the islands in the bay that are owned by the Park or protected by conservation easements.
Massive Water Pollution Will Harm The Bay’s Ecosystem
The effluent from American Aquafarm’s pens will degrade water quality and negatively impact the environment. The two sites will discharge 4.1 billion gallons of untreated sewage a day -- 2000 times greater than the amount of treated sewage from the Bar Harbor treatment plant and 3x the combined discharge from the 14 sewage plants serving all of New York City.
An additional 5.5 million gallons will be produced and discharged after squeezing and ‘dewatering’ fish feces and unused food. Moreover, while American Aquafarms claims there will be no antibiotics used to treat their fish, their application to the Maine DEP specifically leaves that option open with dosing volumes that could be very large considering the volume of fish.
Air, Noise and Light Pollution Will Harm The Environment And Quality Of Life
Ten large generators (plus 30 back-up generators) will run continually to burn 4 million gallons of diesel annually, producing constant air and noise pollution, and lights from each pen will pierce the night sky. Steady truck traffic hauling fish, feed, fuel, sludge and liquid oxygen will overwhelm the local roads. All together the project has a huge carbon impact that runs completely counter to state and national climate action initiatives.
They Could Not Build This Fish Farm In Their Own Country
American Aquafarms wants to build this project here because their home country of Norway would never allow a development like this. Strict regulations there limit the size of fish farms and adverse impacts to water quality and ensure biosecurity and protections for working waterfronts. Unfortunately, Maine needs updated regulations to limit industrial-scale fish farming in state waters and to assess cumulative impacts from multiple lease sites. Currently there is no funding to adequately oversee such large, complex installations.
Their Proposed Technology Is Totally Unproven At This Scale
Because no one has ever attempted to build a project this size using experimental semi-closed pens, there is no data to allow informed decision-making about their impacts to water quality and the bay’s eco-system. The company’s claims are based solely on hypothetical models. American Aquafarms hopes to validate their models after construction by ongoing monitoring. That’s far too risky. Accurate data must be collected to validate their models before anything gets built.
The Promise Of Good Jobs Is An Empty One
It seems that every developer with big plans for this part of Maine holds out the promise of lots of new jobs, but they rarely deliver. This one will be no exception. Few of the benefits will flow to local workers and local communities as advertised. In contrast, many people from across all sectors of the local economy will likely see a net loss of jobs due to declines in fisheries, recreation, tourism, and hospitality that all depend on a pristine natural environment, historic views and the unique, high-quality experience for which our region is famous.
It Upsets The Balance That Has Existed In Frenchman Bay For Generations
This industrial fish farm will destroy the balance that has existed for generations among the many users of the bay: the people who fish for lobsters, scallops and mussels; clammers and worm diggers; small-scale aquaculture entrepreneurs who grow mussels, oysters and kelp; year-round and seasonal residents; tourists and tourism-related businesses; research and educational institutions; and recreational boaters from Maine and around the world. State rules and regulations make it too easy for industrial fish farming projects like this one. We must balance the needs of all those who live, work and recreate on Maine's beautiful coast.
(Click map images to expand)