Bar Harbor, Maine seeks intervenor status on American Aquafarms salmon farm

Published on
June 21, 2021
A rendering of American Aquafarms planned facility.

The town council of Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.A. has filed to seek intervenor status in with the Maine State Department of Marine Resources regarding a salmon farm project proposed by American Aquafarms.

The project is planned to initially produce 30,000 metric tons of salmon a year out of its proposed site in Frenchmen’s Bay in Gouldsboro, Maine – across the water from Bar Harbor’s location on Mt. Desert Island. Bar Harbor’s intervenor status, if approved, would allow the town to provide testimony at a public hearing on the lease and potentially comment on draft decisions, reports the Mount Desert Islander.

The filing comes as a group of 26 Bar Harbor-based fishermen delivered a statement of opposition on the project out of “concerns about the impacts on our livelihood,” the letter states. The concerns listed include “the loss of prime fishing ground for lobster, scallops, and shrimp; increased fishing pressure that will result on adjacent fishing grounds; loss of gear from service vessels and related support activity; navigational conflicts; and water pollution from discharge systems, waste, and feed.”

“This project is completely wrong for Maine,” Jim Hanscom, a petition organizer and one of the local fishermen, said according to a press release from “Frenchman Bay United,” a coalition of local groups opposing the American Aquafarms project.

“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,” Hanscom said. “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.”

Opposition arose just months after the project was proposed. Ted O’Meara of Save the Bay – a member of the Frenchman Bay United group – said the project will impact both fishing and tourism in the region.

“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,” O’Meara said.

American Aquafarms asserted from the public announcement of its project that local support will be a key to its success in Maine. The company also recently hired Thomas J. Brennan as its new director of project development in Maine.

Brennan spent the last 20 years leading the natural resource management division of Nestle Waters North America, primarily for the Poland Spring bottled water brand. According to American Aquafarms, his core focus will be on coordinating the company's teamin Maine in the development process.

“I will also be fully focused on communicating with the community, locally and elsewhere, so others can share in my enthusiasm for this project,” Brennan said in a release from the company.

Brennan said the farming techniques that the company plans to use and their safe implementation could help assuage the concerns of those opposing the project.

“The technology proposed by American Aquafarms makes so much sense from an environmental perspective and the opportunity for economic development from traditional means is rare. It will be my business to share the facts in a candid, respectful, and transparent manner," Brennan said. "I believe when the facts are known, the opposition will dim.” 

Image courtesy of American Aquafarms

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