To the Editor:
Acadia Aqua Farms is proposing a new 48-acre aquaculture lease site between Salisbury Cove and Lamoine that would seriously constrict a relatively narrow navigation channel, leaving only 40 percent of the present width – with negative implications for commercial and recreational use. Losing considerably more than half of the channel would be a very intrusive taking of public waters by private interests. Approval would set an unfortunate precedent that might lead to similar interference with navigation elsewhere.
Proposed is narrowing the 2,455-foot-wide channel by Googins Ledge to 990 feet, which is an unreasonable imposition on other users. The channel is used by fishing boats moored off Lamoine and Salisbury Cove, by an increasing number of sailboats moored off both Mount Desert Island and Lamoine, by boats coming from and going to the launching ramp at the airport or Bar Harbor’s Hadley Point beach, and by vessels transiting Mount Desert Narrows to pass between Blue Hill and Frenchman Bays. Also, small craft such as kayaks, outboards and standup paddleboards come from Hadley Point, Lamoine State Park and shoreline properties in the area. Commercial kayak tours use these waters too.
As a year-round resident of Salisbury Cove for 37 years, I have piloted sailing craft, rowboats, kayaks and standup paddleboards through the part of the channel proposed as the Acadia Aqua Farms site. Beating to windward against winds from the southwest to northwest, the prevailing directions much of the year, a sailboat may have to tack several times as it passes through the channel proposed for the Acadia Aqua Farms lease. Constricting the channel would increase the difficulty of sailing to windward through it, especially if other watercraft are passing through at the same time, which is common during summer months. Congestion could lead to unsafe situations if watercraft operated by inexperienced people are present.
A private business should not be permitted to take over so much of what is now a public navigation channel. And approval of the Acadia Aqua Farms proposed lease might be seen as a green light to block public navigation channels elsewhere – a precedent that absolutely should not be set.