BAR HARBOR — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on July 21 granted a permit to Jesse and Joanna Fogg of Bar Harbor Oyster Co. to begin operations on a 22.5-acre oyster farm in Thomas Bay.
Last September, the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) granted the Foggs a 10-year aquaculture lease to raise American and European oysters on two lease sites – a 16.5-acre and an eight-acre parcel located between Israel Point and the western shore of Thomas Island, east of the Trenton Bridge.
Before operations can begin on an aquaculture project, a permit must be granted by the Army Corps, which manages public waterways.
Ever since the Foggs applied for an aquaculture lease in 2015, the project has been a source of contention between the proprietors and area residents about how the farm will affect the bay and nearby neighborhoods.
On Oct. 19, 2016, a public Army Corps hearing at the Trenton town office drew some 40 aviation experts, biologists, fishermen, pilots, area residents and town officials who spoke in favor of and in opposition to the oyster farm.
Over a dozen residents from the nearby Thundermist Road subdivision formed Friends of Thomas Bay in opposition to the oyster farm.
The residents said the farm would block recreational and commercial activity in the bay.
Other critics of the oyster farm said it would attract wildlife that could prove hazardous for the nearby Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton, increasing the risk of bird strikes and aviation accidents.
“We are happy that the corps held a special hearing in October to hear the concerns of riparian land owners,” the Foggs said in a statement this week. “I think because they had so many people voice concerns regarding air-traffic, the corps took extra time and diligence to make a decision based on science and facts, not just the opinions of land owners.”
In addition to the 67 cages Bar Harbor Oyster Co. currently has in the bay in compliance with its limited purpose aquaculture lease, the Foggs plan to add 60 more cages by the end of this year.
“Our priority is to grow a sustainable, quality oyster, and we expect expansion will be slow,” they said.