By Richard Fisher
A recent article about the American Aquafarms project to install salmon pens in Frenchman Bay reaffirmed the company’s expectations that its applications would be successfully permitted after clarifying a few issues regarding sourcing of their fish stock.
I am writing to question whether the Maine Department of Marine Resources and Governor Mills are fully aware of the extent of public opposition to this project. The decision to permit this salmon farm in Maine’s pristine natural treasure that is Frenchman Bay is way beyond simply correcting a few details in an application. The American Aquafarms project is hugely beyond the scale of what is healthy for our area and, for that matter, anywhere along the coast of Maine.
The concept of scale is always difficult to define for regulators, so they don’t. Instead they come up with numbers and specifications to define what they consider acceptable for a vague range of development projects. And these regulations are rarely sufficient to truly protect our environmental concerns. Thus our overburdened Maine DMR does its best to apply rules that may be well suited to small locally owned and owner operated aquaculture projects, but totally insufficient to properly analyze an operation of the scale that American Aquafarms is proposing.
Even though American Aquafarms claims otherwise, it has been established that its fish pens will pump contaminated waste water back into Frenchman Bay. The tides will NOT sufficiently clear this waste out of the bay and the pollution levels will continue to rise indefinitely. This will threaten the local marine life and even human health.
American Aquafarms’ activity in the bay will surely threaten our local economy. It will be in full view of Acadia National Park and all the visitors who enjoy the surrounding communities. The constantly operating diesel generators, and the barges that will daily be transporting feed and additional “filtered” fish waste will generate unacceptable air, light and sound pollution.
Our lobstermen and women have already affirmed that this project will threaten their local industry. Twenty-two area business and conservation groups have publicly recorded their oppostion and four communities are officially on record to stop it.
The land-based activity that will be established in Prospect Harbor will mean the end to our village as we have always known it. There will be a major increase in truck and vehicle traffic, unknown demands on our water table, a substantial increase in large scale boat activity, and a constant new and offensive level of air, sound and light pollution.
Although politicians tend to be receptive to companies that promise jobs, most local people will not be looking for jobs that are out of line with our small-business local economy.
Governor Mills, you need to see Frenchman Bay! It is one of the most significant parts of the Maine Coast. Once we deface it, it will be gone. Please look deeply into this American Aquafarms project. Evaluate it with the assistance of people who know the area, who know the economy, who know the science.
And to everyone who cares, do all you can to tell these folks who will be making these decisions that this project is not for Maine!
Richard Fisher lives in Prospect Harbor.