TRENTON — Residents voiced no major concerns in a preliminary public meeting Tuesday about a proposed new oyster farm in Goose Cove. Joe Porada, who does business as Acadia Bays Clam and Oyster and currently holds three contiguous “experimental” aquaculture leases in Goose Cove, plans to apply for a new non-experimental lease from the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Tuesday’s “scoping session” meeting fulfilled a requirement that an initial public meeting be held before the application is filed.
Porada and shorefront property owners in Trenton all have seen their share of controversy over aquaculture activities, but not with each other. Four years ago, shorefront property owners around Goose Cove opposed a 50-acre oyster farm proposal for the area filed by Warren Pettigrow. Last year, Porada faced marathon public hearing sessions for a lease in Surry.
Porada’s existing experimental leases in Goose Cove cover 6 acres, an area 1,200 by 200 feet. “The plan is to triple the size of it out into deeper water right in the middle of the bay, roughly a thousand feet from any riparian shoreline,” he said. “The existing three contiguous leases would be combined if this goes forward and move out so it would be 1,200 by 600 feet, roughly the distance between three telephone poles,” he said. Most of that area is underwater except at extreme low tide, he said.
A major difference between Porada’s proposal and the one behind the 2010 controversy is that none of the cages or gear will be floating. Cages and netting sit on the mudflats marked by buoys as required, Porada said, so the impact on boating and other recreational use should be minimal.
“Recreational fishermen might loose a hook on the gear. That would probably be the worst that could happen,” he said.
Porada anticipates the project will have only minimal impact on noise and light levels in the area. “It may be necessary, occasionally, to work outside daylight hours when larger low tide cycles near sunrise or sunset. Headlights will be the primary light source. If it is necessary to use fixed lighting, it will be 100 watts or less and directed at the work area and away from the shore,” he said in a written overview of the project.”
Porada said he plans to continue to use Mount Desert Island property owned by Matt Gerald as a base of operations.
“We’ll have two flavors of oysters that taste quite a bit different,” Porada said. “The ones from here in Goose Cove will be sweeter and nuttier, if you move over to Matt’s, the water’s much more saline and there’s a lot less feed in it, more briny flavored oysters.”
At the meeting Tuesday, some residents voiced concern that the proposed farm might grow in size or scope between now and the next public comment period. Because a site evaluation must be conducted between March and November and DMR faces a backlog of applications, the next public meeting about Porada’s application won’t happen for at least six months. It will be important, one resident said, to keep summer residents informed so they’re not blindsided by decisions affecting them.
Porada said he has no plans to expand beyond the 18 acres in question. “I don’t think there’s room for more, and I don’t think there’s call for it,” he said.