HANCOCK — A protest to a proposed Frenchman Bay salmon farm will take place later this month in the very same waters the company behind the project hopes to raise the fish.
A local restaurateur is organizing the “Save the Bay Flotilla” to protest American Aquafarms’ plan to put 30 salmon pens in the bay. Leslie Harlow, the organizer and owner of the Hancock restaurant Ironbound, is calling on working and recreational boaters from around the region to participate.
“The synergy of tourism, lobstering, owner-operator independent aquaculture operations, and recreational boating works beautifully on Frenchman Bay,” she said. “A proposal of this magnitude threatens all of that.”
American Aquafarms, a Norwegian-backed company, has proposed to raise 66 million pounds of Atlantic salmon annually at two 15-pen sites in Frenchman Bay.
That plan has drawn backlash from lobstermen, environmentalists and other smaller scale aquaculturists in the region who have come out against the project, saying it could be harmful to the bay.
“Without question, this project has the potential to devastate the lobster industry in
this area,” said Zach Piper, a Hancock-based lobsterman and board member of Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation, which has come out against the farm plan. “We need to make sure this never happens and then fix the rules and regulations that got us here in the first place. If we don’t stop this project, it will be only the beginning of selling our entire coastline to out-of-state investors who don’t care one bit about our heritage or jobs like mine that depend on a healthy, clean environment.”
Boats will gather near one of the two proposed 60-acre pen sites off the Hop, a locally known spot at Long Porcupine Island, at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 29. From there, the flotilla will proceed to the proposed site and through Bar Harbor before dispersing.
Lobstermen, recreational boaters, kayakers and other watercraft owners are encouraged to join and fly banners in opposition to the project.