Mussels being processed aboard Acadia Aqua Farms' barge Stewardship. The company is applying for a 48-acre lease in Frenchman Bay.  PHOTO COURTESY OF ACADIA AQUA FARMS 

Acadia Aqua Farms public hearing set for March 28



ELLSWORTH — An application to grow mussels on 48 acres in Frenchman Bay will be the center of a public hearing online and in the Bar Harbor Town Council chambers on March 28.

Held by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR), the hearing follows an administrative pre-conference meeting in early January that resulted in allowing the involved parties to appear in person or remotely, with members of the public attending online.

Members of the public who wish to offer testimony or ask questions have a March 14 deadline to register, through www.maine.gov/dmr/about/meeting-details.html?id=6688523.

Acadia Aqua Farms proposes raising up to 1,000 tons of blue mussels, 10 million scallops and 1,000 tons each of softshell and hardshell clams southwest of Googins Ledge with a 20-year lease term.

However, co-owner Fiona de Koning and her son, technical manager Alex de Koning, told The Ellsworth American late in December 2021 that they plan only to raise seeding mussels for the five mussel farms they already operate across 158 acres — four in Frenchman Bay and one in the waters off Deer Isle.

The de Konings plan to use gear suspended in the water or on the bottom, using a pipe seeding system used in Europe for the past two decades. Fiona de Koning said the black pipes would stick out about 6 inches from the water’s surface, but gear would be otherwise hidden from view. The pipes catch and trap wild mussel spat, to allow them to grow until the mussels are too large for predators like green crabs.

A Jan. 26 addendum to the site report from a second visit on Sept. 1, 2021, shows soft sediment on the bottom and 27 lobster trap buoys in or near the proposed lease site.

For scallop farming, the de Konings have a separate lease application for 68 acres northeast of Sunken Ledge, between Parker and Hancock points in Frenchman Bay. The DMR accepted the application as complete on March 18, 2021, but has not yet scheduled a public hearing. The operation would farm up to 4 million sea scallops using suspended gear, including lantern nets, long lines and ear hanging droppers, 4,000 feet from shore.

The March 28 hearing starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 9:30, although the hearing officer may extend the meeting. If necessary, the hearing will continue on March 29. The DMR has not yet released the link to attend online but for questions on the hearing or help with registering to add public comment, contact the DMR Aquaculture Division at [email protected] or 624-6573.

 

 

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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