Bangor Daily News Dec 30th, 2020
Protecting Maine’s coast
I am a young fisherman making my living for the last decade in Frenchman’s Bay. I recently attended a hearing by American Aquafarms, which is deceptive with its name for a starting point. The areas this Norwegian-backed company is proposing to turn into industrial aquaculture with two 50-plus acre leases for large fish pens, is heavily fished by lobstermen and has been for years. I am not a fan of foreign corporations making their money at the expense of Maine people.
I hope before anything moves forward, that the Department of Marine Resources denies this lease. We need to take a hard look at this company and all the large-scale aquaculture rules that have been put in place so that out-of-state and out-of-country interests don’t own one of Maine’s greatest treasurers: our coast.
Week Of December 9th, 2020, Ellsworth American and MD Islander
Questions on aquaculture lease
Frenchman Bay sits at the foot of Acadia National Park. It is a beautiful and special place in Maine. Now it also is a targeted site for fin-fish in-water aquaculture, and there are so many questions that revolve around this potential lease, which would be owned by a company run by Norwegians. American Aquaculture, funded through European investors, wants to raise salmon. Those 66 million fish would be raised in a plastic polymer bag sitting in the ocean just north of Bar Harbor. Raising may be too generous a word; rather, the fish will be swimming in circles in containers in the water. The cold, clean waters of Maine get pumped in and water gets pumped out as the fish swim in circles. And that methodology leads to so many questions about the potential damage to the environment. What will the water pumped back into the bay be like? Will it affect our local marine animals and plants? Will the state have effective regulations in place to do no harm to the environment? How will the container be kept clean? How many jobs for locals will it really create? I ask that question as much of it is said to be handled remotely. Why this area of Maine — an area that attracts millions of visitors a year? Why would the state grant a lease to someone who has spent time in prison regarding investors and money issues? Whose interests are really being served?
To: Friends of Frenchman Bay
From: Steve Weber (resident of Hancock)
Re: Norwegian aquaculture project.
Like you, I am troubled about the plans by “American” Aquafarms to build a huge fish farming Operation in Frenchman Bay.
I was initially concerned that FFB’s response not be motivated by simple NIMBYism. One of the ways I addressed that issue for myself was to seek the advice of a Norwegian friend who is a recently-retired veterinarian with extensive experience in marine veterinary science. I asked him whether he believes that FFB’s concerns have any merit.
After the usual pleasantries he responded:
“Concerning the gigantic plans on aquaculture in Frenchman’s Bay I would
simply say: it is madness.
So called closed systems i.e. canvas or plasic bags floating on sea sites were
operated on experimental basis in Norway during late nineteen eighties and
early nineties. Clean deep sea was pumped into the bags and waste water
released from the bags together with biological waste. The systems never
became profitable, and the systems I inspected eventually broke down or
collapsed. As a principle such systems are very interesting because bacterial,
viral infections and parasitic infestation can be reduced drastically. Such systems
can be improved in order to remove biological waste from the sites. However,
technically and practical it has turned out to be difficult and expensive.
Dear Steve, please send my regards to Friends of Frenchman’s Bay and encourage
them to do what they can to protect the environment. I wonder where and how
the founders will find/raise money for a project of such size. And what about
the State of Maine’s environmental Authorities ?
From your eternal friend…”
I have a lot to learn about this project, but I have already learned enough to appreciate the threat it poses to our environment, our Bay, to local fisherman, and to Acadia National Park.
I have asked my Norwegian friend for more information. I will share it as/when it becomes available.