American Aquafarms withdraws lawsuit against Maine Department of Marine Resources

American Aquafarms Founder Mikael Rønes holds an image depicting a part of the company's planned project.

American Aquafarms, the company with plans to build a salmon farm in Gouldsboro, Maine, U.S.A., has withdrawn a lawsuit it initiated against the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR).

In April 2022, American Aquafarms’ planned aquaculture project was dealt a major setback after the Maine DMR decided it would no longer process the company’s lease applications. The DMR denied the application, citing a lack of an approved egg source for its salmon.

The company went on to file an appeal in the state's Cumberland County Superior Court, and documents acquired by SeafoodSource indicated that American Aquafarms claimed the lease process constituted “an arbitrary and capricious action which was unsupported by the evidence before the department.”

Now, however, the company has walked back its legal action and has filed a stipulation of dismissal to the court. The move by American Aquafarms was then agreed to by lawsuit intervenor Frenchman Bay United – an organization opposing the project.

“As an intervenor on behalf of the Maine DMR, Frenchman Bay United agreed to the dismissal of this lawsuit,” FBU Board President Henry Sharpe said in a release. “We have always believed that DMR made the right decision in refusing to accept the company’s lease applications and that this lawsuit had little merit. We again call on American Aquafarms to end any plans it may have to reapply for permits for this or other destructive and highly polluting projects.”

Because the stipulation of dismissal was filed with prejudice, the company cannot refile the same claim again. In all likelihood, this means that if American Aquafarms wants to go through the permit process, it must start over from the beginning. Maine DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher estimated in April it would take at least two or three years for the company to gain a permit if that were the case.

Frenchman Bay United said it hopes that the dismissal, and the subsequent lengthy timeline if the company tries again, signals the end of the project.

“We hope that this is the end for American Aquafarms, but we remain vigilant and ready to challenge any subsequent applications they may file that would jeopardize Maine’s brand: clean water, thriving natural habitats, pristine wilderness, and a robust, owner-operated working waterfront,” Sharpe said.  

Officials from American Aquafarms did not immediately respond to a SeafoodSource request for comment on the withdrawal of the appeal.

Photo courtesy of American Aquafarms


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