MOUNT DESERT — The Select Board has asked Town Manager Durlin Lunt to draft a letter to state officials expressing opposition to a proposed 120-acre salmon farm in Frenchman Bay.
“We see a lot of signs around town; a lot of people who live here are opposed to it,” Select Board member Martha Dudman said at Monday night’s meeting. “It’s not good for the fishermen; it’s not good for the island, and I think we should make some statement.”
American Aquafarms 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.
Opponents of the project point to what they say would be its negative environmental and aesthetic impacts.
“I don’t know that I’ve had a strong opinion on it, mainly because it’s not right off our shores of Mount Desert,” Select Board member Matt Hart said at Monday’s meeting.
“But I think we’re aware of the potential dangers to that ecosystem, and that’s going to have an impact on Mount Desert residents who are fishermen, who are pleasure boaters, with algae blooms and everything going into the water.
“There are other ways to do that sort of salmon farming on land, where water can be filtered,” Hart said. “I view this as sort of the cheap and dirty method of doing it, and it would have a detrimental effect on Mount Desert residents.”
Board member Geoff Wood said of the American Aquafarms proposal, “There are reasons that organizations like that want to bulldoze their way in, and it isn’t for the benefit of the people who live there. They can dress it up all they want, but the risks are high, the benefits to this community are virtually nil.”
Acadia National Park officials have expressed serious concern about the impacts of the salmon farm.
John Macauley, chair of the Mount Desert Select Board, said Monday, “It’s going to affect the park. It’s going to affect the things we love the most here.”
Board members said they want to give the public an opportunity to comment at their next meeting, Oct. 4, on the letter opposing the salmon farm that they asked the town manager to draft before sending it to state officials.