MOUNT DESERT — The select board voted last Monday night to send a letter to Gov. Janet Mills expressing its “vehement opposition” to a proposed 120-acre salmon farm in Frenchman Bay, saying it would be “ruinous to our island community.”
At its meeting two weeks ago, the board asked Town Manager Durlin Lunt to draft the letter.
“Our coastal environment is already in jeopardy due to the clear and present danger of climate change, and a project of this scope would be devastating,” the letter states.
“We know that such a massive project will forever change the intrinsic natural qualities that make Frenchman Bay a beloved national treasure and will threaten our local commercial fishery and the livelihoods of our citizens. Ocean-based salmon farming on this scale is environmentally unsound and would have a profound negative impact on the ecology of Frenchman Bay and beyond.”
American Aquafarms, a subsidiary of a Norwegian company, has applied to the Maine Department of Marine Resources for a 20-year lease on two sites in the bay, each slightly more than 60 acres in size. One site is northwest of Long Porcupine Island; the other is north of Bald Rock. They would have a total of 30 salmon pens.
Several environmental and community groups are on record opposing the project, and Acadia National Park officials have expressed serious concerns.
The Mount Desert Select Board said in its letter to Mills that it is not opposed to aquaculture in general, but to the “industrial sized” fish farm that is being proposed.
The letter asks the governor to use her “legal and moral authority to preserve and protect the marine life, clear cold waters and clean air of Frenchman Bay and adjacent waters for the current generation and for generations to come.”