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May 11, 2022

Next move remains unclear for proposed Frenchman Bay salmon farm

rendering of fish pen COURTESY / AMERICAN AQUAFARMS American Aquafarms isn’t saying yet how it will move forward after the state nixed its applications to install fish pens in Frenchman Bay. A rendering of a pen is shown here.

After the Maine Department of Marine Resources last month rejected two applications by American Aquafarms to install fish-raising pens in Frenchman Bay, the Norwegian company is looking at its options for moving forward.

“It’s much too soon to be speculating what we’re going to be doing in the future,” said Thomas Brennan, project manager for American Aquafarms.

Brennan was the featured speaker Tuesday for a virtual presentation about the company's activities, hosted by Acadia Senior College on Mount Desert Island.

American Aquafarms proposed to lease two 60-acre sites between Bar Harbor and Schoodic Peninsula to install 15 “closed pens” plus an operations barge at each site. The company's goal for the project is to eventually produce 30,000 metric tons, or 66 million pounds, of salmon annually, and to build a hatchery and processing facility in Gouldsboro.

But the DMR said American Aquafarms “failed to fulfill its legal obligation to demonstrate an available source of fish to be cultivated at its proposed salmon farms in Frenchman Bay.”

The source of Atlantic salmon proposed by American Aquafarms was AquaBounty of Newfoundland, Canada. The source didn’t meet the agency’s criteria for a “qualified source/hatchery” as defined in agency regulations.

“It’s important for us to pay attention and think carefully about how we’re going to proceed into the future here,” said Brennan.

Brennan said the waters of Frenchman Bay are well-suited to the company’s proposed activities. Key aspects include water depth, water quality and shelter.

“Frenchman Bay was far and away the best place,” he said.

He noted that the pens would occupy about 10 acres of each lease site. The remaining acreage, he said, was needed to accommodate underwater mooring lines to hold the pens in place. The closed pen system, he said, is designed to capture waste generated by the operation. The waste would be taken to shore and converted to other uses, such as fertilizer or biofuel. 

Contrary to characterizations by the proposal’s opponents, Brennan said the operations would not be “industrial.”

“The size of the pens in the larger scheme of Frenchman Bay is not that big,” he said. 

He added, “We’re trying to understand what our options are.”

Brennan said the company is looking at an alternative source of salmon eggs through a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Franklin.

The college will host a counterpoint presentation with representatives from Frenchman Bay United, Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park on May 17. For more information, click here.

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May 11, 2022

Besides having Acadia National Park, scientific analysis, and the entire community against you, when you have the local Chamber of Commerce also going against you, it is time to move on.

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