The mountains of Acadia National Park loom in the background across Mount Desert Island Narrows from shallow Goose Cove, where a Trenton lobster pound owner may soon begin growing thousands of oysters in floating cages. FILE PHOTO

Trenton oyster farm issued lease after five years

TRENTON — For the United States, World War II lasted nearly four years. That’s about 18 months less than it has taken Warren Pettegrow to get a lease from the Department of Marine Resources to farm oysters in Goose Cove.

Pettegrow filed an application for an aquaculture lease encompassing two 25-acre parcels in February 2010. His plan called for raising as many 10 million oysters in some 5,000 floating cages.

Early this month, nearly five and a half years after Pettegrow filed the application, DMR announced that it had issued a five-year lease to his Acadia Sea Farms Inc. In this case, though, Commissioner Patrick Keliher doesn’t have to shoulder the blame.

In September 2010, DMR began a public hearing on the lease application that extended into December over four contentious days of testimony. During the hearing, a representative of the Federal Aviation Administration objected to the lease because of concerns that the oyster cages might attract dangerous numbers of seagulls to the site, which lies just across Route 3 from one end of the runway at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport.

In January 2012, acting DMR Commissioner Joseph Fessenden signed a five-year lease for the oyster farm. Among the lease conditions was a requirement that Acadia obtain the necessary permits to moor its floating gear from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Among the factors that would be considered, a Corps representative said at the hearing, was the bird issue.

After a wait of more than three years, the Corps decided that the concerns about concentrations of birds had apparently been addressed. On March 6, the Corps issued an individual permit to Acadia to place up to 5,000 floating oyster cages and related moorings. Three months later, DMR announced that it had issued the lease.

The Acadia lease includes several conditions that are unique to the site. Chief among them is a requirement that the floating oyster cages may not be sunk to the bottom of the cove, even in the event of a storm or other emergency, without prior written consent from DMR. The lease also imposes strict controls on how the oyster cages may be cleaned and requires that fouling removed from the cages — such as mussels or other marine organisms — must be disposed of in a land-based composting facility and not in the water.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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