Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 20, 2021

Fishery group pans proposed salmon farm off Gouldsboro

COURTESY / AMERICAN AQUAFARMS This rendering shows the proposed American Aquafarms salmon hatchery, farming facilities and processing plant in Gouldsboro. A Portland fishery group opposes the plan.

A Portland-based fishery group is expressing concerns about the proposed site and size of a salmon farm in waters off Gouldsboro. 

Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation said the area proposed by American Aquafarms, in Frenchman’s Bay, is heavily fished by lobstermen. 

American Aquafarms is an aquaculture startup backed by a Norwegian investor that has under contract the purchase of the 100,000-square-foot Maine Fair Trade Lobster processing facility in Gouldsboro. The company hopes to develop a salmon-farming operation there.

American Aquafarms was launched in Portland last year by Mikael Rones, CEO of Global AS, which is based in Trondheim, Norway. The proposal calls for building a salmon hatchery as well as farming and processing facilities on the site and operate closed deep-water pens for raising fish.

Maine-based companies assisting in the site location and project development included Bernstein Shur, Cianbro Corp., Kennebec River Biosciences, Maine & Co. and Ransom Consulting.

But Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation, a non-partisan group, on Tuesday called the project “industrialized aquaculture” and said it has heard from multiple lobstermen concerned about losing bottom in the area as well as the potential for environmental damage. 

The foundation “supports legislation that will work to reduce acreage, looks at how easy it is to transfer a lease to an individual, business, or corporation, and the increasing conflict between proposed in-water aquaculture projects and all those who live, work and recreate along Maine’s coast,” its executive director, Crystal Canney, said in a news release.

Canney added, “Our overarching concern is that the Department of Marine Resources doesn’t have the staff, the resources, or the will to address what is becoming a serious public policy issue — the future of the Maine coast.

“It’s inherent that if and when these conversations happen all stakeholders are at the table not just those in the aquaculture industry who have a vested interest in growing lease sizes. Small aquaculturists in Maine have expressed similar concerns about large leases along the coast.  Maine’s waters are a public trust and it’s time to take a breather and create a plan for the future.”

The Department of Marine Resources oversees aquaculture lease applications.

In a separate release, the foundation said it is joined in its concerns by a former state aquaculture official.

Jon Lewis worked with the Department of Marine Resources’ aquaculture program for 23 years as a scientist and diver, then became director of the agency’s division of aquaculture.

Courtesy / Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation
Jon Lewis

“I am joining this effort because too many aquaculture leases are being approved without the ability to adequately oversee and monitor those leases,” Lewis said in the release.

“Lease applications are growing quickly in both number and acreage requested, which is leading to increased conflict along the Maine coastline. We have a gold rush mentality with aquaculture.”

Lewis said discussions are needed concerning the size of leases, and the transferability of leases without a hearing. 

“We need a statewide conversation and plan for aquaculture,” he said. “Maine has no plan for aquaculture and we need to have that conversation with all stakeholders — the waters are a public trust and should be treated as such.”

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF