Hearing was sham

To the Editor:

On July 28, I attended a meeting/hearing put on by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to hear input about an application for an oyster farm installation in Thomas Bay. It would be located right by the airport, Trenton Bridge, Oceanarium and my own home.

I expected to go to this event to hear all arguments for and against this proposal. What I heard and saw was a government agency holding a sham hearing.

The DMR clearly had made up its mind to approve the farm without hearing any arguments related to its adverse effects on the local community. I know this because they would not allow any testimony to be given about one of the most critical concerns of local citizens concerning the location of the facility – it’s proximity to the airport and the potential dangers of increased bird activity on the direct flight path of one of the runways.

In addition, their so-called experts refuted every question and argument raised by audience members, including myself, with made-up counter-arguments, based on no real facts, just their opinion. Like in politics it seems they believe if you say something loud enough and confident enough, even a lie seems real.

The safety issue of the airport is only one issue, though. As a resident of Israel Point, I use my shoreline for swimming, kayaking, dog play and to collect mussels for eating. But the DMR could not say with certainly and with legitimate science that I would not be affected by the fecal refuse from one million oysters growing each year within 800 feet of my shore.

One audience member presented an argument that the cormorants that have been attracted to these types of farms also leave behind fecal matter that could contaminate the oysters themselves.

Again the DMR made up a response and then deferred the question to the public safety office.

Farming oysters requires 8-12 hours per day of cleaning and tending, with loud machinery and boats. I’m sure our quality of life is going to be greatly diminished. I wonder if the applicants of the farm would like it if I parked a wood chipper in front of their house and let it run eight hours a day, seven days a week for nine months. Oh, and let’s leave some animal waste on their front lawn as an added bonus.

While it may not seem like a big deal, the presence of more than 1,240 oyster cages in the small bay area will make it nearly impossible to kayak around.

There are hundreds of miles of shorefront in Down East Maine that are relatively unpopulated and would provide a better environment for these farms. Why do they have to put these farms right along the shores of Mount Desert Island?

We all earn our livings, directly or indirectly, from visitors to Acadia and Bar Harbor. Why do we want to pollute their views of our beautiful coastline with thousands of ugly black plastic boxes? The applicants, in their statement, extolled how they’ve gotten a lot of support for their venture. Well they certainly didn’t bother to ask those people who would be most directly, adversely affected by this.

Oh, and yeah, the hazards to our airport are a real thing, despite the DMR’s refusal to hear any arguments about it.

Rebecca Richardson

Bar Harbor

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