Little Island Oyster Co. owner Frank Peasley, with Daisy supervising, harvests oysters from the company’s Bagaduce River lease site in Brooksville.  PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE ISLAND OYSTER 

DMR hearing set for renewal of Bagaduce River lease  

BROOKSVILLE — As a 10-year aquaculture lease ends, Little Island Oyster Co. owners Frank and Tonyia Peasley have applied to renew the lease for a 20-year period, now the term allowed for standard leases. 

A Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) public hearing is set for 4 p.m. on March 15 at Brooksville Town Hall. Remote participation is allowed, but registration is required at by 5 p.m. on Feb. 28. 

Little Island Oyster Co. produces roughly 800,000 Eastern American oysters using suspended aquaculture north of Bear Head on the Bagaduce River in Brooksville. On the company’s renewal application, Frank Peasley said up to 1 million oysters could be produced annually on the lease site. 

Once oyster seeds are “planted,” it takes two to three years until they are large enough for the market.  

The 14-mile Bagaduce River flows through four towns – Brooksville, Sedgwick, Penobscot and Castine – with six Brooksville property owners and eight from Sedgwick notified of the hearing as riparian owners within 1,000 feet of the site. 

“Fortunately, we have had no complaints or pushback about our farm,” Tonyia Peasley said.  

The oyster farm employed two full-time and “anywhere between three and four part-time workers” pre-COVID-19. 

“We aren’t sure what it will look like this year,” Tonyia Peasley said. 

State aquaculture rules were revised in 2019 related to the application process, timeline and payment. The criteria for granting leases and renewals is based on unreasonable interference with navigation, ingress and egress of riparian owners, fishing or other uses, significant wildlife and marine habitats and public use or enjoyment within 1,000 feet of a public beach, dock or park. 

Additionally, in approving a lease, the number and density of aquaculture leases are considered when approving an aquaculture lease application, the impact of noise or light at the lease site boundaries and that it complies with “visual impact criteria adopted by the commissioner relating to color, height, shape and mass.” 

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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