A working waterfront

To the Editor:

In response to the recent Islander article, “Neighbors nervous about oyster plans” published last week, Bar Harbor Oyster Company (BHOC) LLC. would like to address the concerns our neighbors have raised.

BHOC empathizes with the challenges of change, especially those that occur in one’s backyard. BHOC fully appreciates the natural beauty of Thomas Bay and all of the activities people enjoy there. The application for the lease (available on the Department of Marine Resources website) shows significant regard for the innate qualities of Thomas Bay and the community that surrounds it.

BHOC intends to use less than half as many cages on the lease site as can fit. This deliberate cage density serves multiple purposes. It allows ample room for other small boat activity through and around the lease site.

Second, the shading that cages create will be limited, allowing more sunlight to reach bottom, hopefully aiding in the return of eelgrass, and other organic matter.

BHOC will make every effort to preserve the aesthetic quality and the soundscape in Thomas Bay. The application specifically states that pressure washers will not be used on the lease site. All engines are quiet four strokes, equipped with engine covers, and sound-dampening insulation. Workers will only be on site up to six days a week, during daylight hours, and only during the short growing season.

Oysters are filter feeders; they are known to improve water quality. Concerns that oyster aquaculture will destroy the local flora are completely unfounded. Areas such as the Chesapeake demonstrate the opposite is true. Evidence shows that the world’s oceans are becoming more acidic due to increased levels of green house gases, specifically carbon dioxide, which gets absorbed into seawater. Oysters have the ability to sequester CO2 from the water for shell formation, which leads to a more pH-balanced, and therefore healthier, ecosystem.

A working waterfront and a pristine coastline play an important role in Maine’s cultural heritage. BHOC seeks to maintain both those traditions by providing a livelihood for local people by cultivating a natural and sustainable resource in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible.

Joanna Walls

Bar Harbor

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