With American Aquafarms farm stalled in Maine, Keith Decker resigns as CEO, moves to sell processing plant

The former Maine Fair Trade Lobster facility in Gouldsboro Maine.

Keith Decker, who joined American Aquafarms as its CEO in October 2021, announced his resignation in early May and is now seeking to sell his share in the facility the company planned to use for its processing operations.

American Aquafarms reached an agreement to purchase the former Maine Fair Trade Lobster facility, in Gouldsboro, Maine, U.S.A., in October 2020. The 100,000-square-foot facility, formerly owned by the East Coast Seafood Group, was intended to house the company’s hatchery and fish farm facilities as part of a planned closed net-pen salmon aquaculture operation with a production capacity of up to 30,000 metric tons annually.

In a press release, Decker said he was granted an interest in the Gouldsboro property as collateral for a loan he had made to the company and as compensation for USD 1.125 million (EUR 1.036 million) the company owes him. The agreement is in property records in Gouldsboro's Hancock County, according to a spokesperson for Decker.

Now, Decker is “taking action to liquidate his interest” in the collateral by auctioning off the Gouldsboro facility, the spokesperson said. The facility has been listed by Keenan Auction Company, and includes the 100,000-square-foot industrial facility, 1,250 feet of oceanfront, more than 94 acres of property, and a pier.

Decker made the move in response to Blue Future Holdings’ lack of interest in the project, he said.

“In March of this year, the company’s director of project development was quoted in press accounts stating that the firm's parent company, Blue Future Holdings, is focused on new projects in Norway rather than those not making progress – like American Aquafarms,” the spokesperson said. “At this time, Mr. Decker is taking action to liquidate his interest in that collateral to provide the funds owed.”

American Aquafarms’ plans have faced intense local opposition, including the town approving a moratorium on large-scale fish farms and the formation of organizations opposed to the project. The company lost a bid for ocean access in April 2022, with the Maine Department of Marine Resource denying its application for two leases in the Frenchman’s Bay – the planned location of its in-water closed net-pen salmon aquaculture facilities.

After multiple setbacks on the project, local newspaper The Ellsworth American reported that American Aquafarms’ parent company, Blue Future Holdings, has shifted focus to other projects in Norway and away from the one in Maine. It also reported that American Aquafarms still owes money to local engineering firm Sebago Technics, resulting in a USD 75,795 (EUR 69,827) lien on the company’s property. 

Ted O’Meara, a board member of Frenchman Bay United – an organization formed to oppose the American Aquafarms salmon farm – told SeafoodSource he's not sure if the project is officially dead. 

“For now, without knowing any more, we would say that if this is the end of the project. We’re thrilled and thankful to all of the people around the bay who’ve worked with us over the last three years to defeat it,” O’Meara said. 

Frenchman Bay United is ready to help find a good use for the facility in the event it is sold, O'Meara said.

“Even if this is the end, I think we’re all committed to finding a good use for that facility,” he said.

A spokesperson for American Aquafarms did not respond to a SeafoodSource request for information on the status of the project.  

Photo courtesy of Keenan Auction Company


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