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April 22, 2021

Industrial salmon farm proposal for Frenchman Bay draws local fire

SCREENSHOT / AMERICAN AQUAFARMS Seen here is a rendering of the closed-pen system that would be used by a proposed salmon farm in Frenchman Bay.

A proposal by an aquaculture startup to lease 120 acres in Frenchman Bay to create an Atlantic salmon farm is drawing fire from people onshore.

“So many people around the bay have come together to try to fight this,” said Ted O’Meara, a consultant who represents area residents concerned about the farm's potential impact on water quality, as well as sound and light disturbances and disruptions in use of the bay for fishing and recreation, the residents say.

O’Meara was the speaker at a Zoom meeting Wednesday night that drew over 80 attendees.

American Aquafarms, a Norwegian company, has filed two draft lease applications with the Department of Marine Resources to begin development of closed-pen, ocean-based salmon operation at two proposed sites in the bay.

The goal is to produce 66 million pounds of fish per year.

Among the potential risks with the project, O'Meara said, was the prospect of pollution from “millions of gallons of effluent,” fish escapes, fish die-offs, fish disease that could impact other species, loss of commercial fishing grounds and “threats” to other small-scale aquaculture operations already taking place in the bay. 

John Kelly, a management assistant with Acadia National Park, said the park is “very concerned” about the project and plans to weigh in during the permitting process. That will include reviews by the Department of Marine Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project will also likely trigger an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, he said.

“I think proximity to Acadia is going to be a key piece to defeating this,” said O’Meara.

Each of the two sites would be 60.3 acres. The pens at each site would take up 6.6 acres. With associated mooring systems, the equipment would take up about 10 acres each. Each lease area would consist of 15 pens and a feed-and-waste barge. The set-up would include generators housed in a closed unit on the barges. 

American Aquafarms CEO Mikael Roenes has said the company will use emergent technology for a closed-pen system that will control discharge, eliminate fish escapes, reduce the need for medicine and chemicals, and eliminate sea lice and predators. 

Members of Bar Harbor’s town council last month expressed reservations about the proposal.

The company has also entered into an agreement to buy the Maine Fair Trade Lobster facility in Gouldsboro, with plans to redevelop that 11-acre site into a hatchery and processing facility.

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April 22, 2021

Why can't they use "Green Energy" instead of using 'generators housed on barges'? You would think in 2021 every new business would be using Green as much as needed.

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