American Aquafarms project targeted by Maine town's aquaculture moratorium
Residents in the town of Gouldsboro, Maine, U.S.A. voted overwhelmingly in favor of a six-month moratorium on all large-scale fish farms, likely in response to an American Aquafarms proposal to build a salmon-aquaculture facility in the town.
American Aquafarms hopes to a salmon farm using closed-net pens in Frenchman Bay, near the town of Gouldsboro, which would produce 30,000 metric tons of salmon a year in its “stage-one” phase of operations. The company recently named former Blue Harvest Fisheries and High Liner Foods CEO Keith Decker as its new CEO.
But the project has met opposition from local groups including Friends of Schoodic Peninsula, Frenchman Bay United, and Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation. Neighboring towns, as well, have voted to have “intervenor” status on the proposed farm’s permit applications.
Representatives of the opposition groups present at the Gouldsboro vote applauded the vote for the moratorium, which according to a WABI report passed with only three dissenting votes from more 200 people in attendance.
“We didn’t ask for this, we don’t need it, and we don’t want it,” Friends of Schoodic Peninsula Founding Member Jacqueline Weaver said in a release by Protect Maine. “The only people that will benefit from this are the investors. Existing businesses have great difficulty filling jobs. We need economic development that helps the area, not something that will ruin an irreplaceable ecosystem in Frenchman Bay.”
The new aquaculture operation is also opposed by some local fishermen.
“We have a healthy economy in the bay and this will destroy that economy, all in order to line the pockets of overseas investors," local lobster fisherman Jerry Potter said, according to Protect Maine.
The new moratorium would freeze all review and issuance of municipal permits for finfish aquaculture-related developments that comprise 10 acres or more, retroactive to 16 September, 2021. The purpose of the moratorium, according to the town, is to give its planning board time to create ordinances that consider projects as large as the one proposed by American Aquafarms.
Attempts on Tuesday, 16 November by SeafoodSource to reach representatives of American Aquafarms for their response to the vote were unsuccessful.
Photo courtesy of Protect Maine's Fishing Heritage Foundation