To the Editor:
Two years ago, “American” Aquafarms announced plans to site an industrial-scale salmon farm in Frenchman Bay.
In October of 2019, it came to light that “American” Aquafarms was owned by foreign business interests and soon after the press reported that Norwegian Mikael Rønes, the company’s founder and CEO had been sentenced to years in prison for financial fraud.
Multiple sources reported that the Norwegian investors could never get their project approved in Norway due to the high levels of pollution. American Aquafarms didn’t come to Maine just for its clean, cold waters, but for the state’s lack of strict regulations.
When they filed for a lease of public waters from the Maine Department of Marine Resources they were required to engage with the community in a “scoping session,” which was tightly choreographed by lawyers from Bernstein Shur.
The town of Gouldsboro recognized that it had to address “American” Aquafarms’ plans to operate within its municipal boundaries and held a public meeting where hundreds of residents voted to halt the project until it could be studied and properly regulated.
This past April, DMR rejected their lease application due to the company’s failure to comply with state standards for fish eggs. American Aquafarms sued the state, forcing DMR to spend taxpayer funds to defend its decision. Months later, the company withdrew the lawsuit when it became clear that it would lose.
The company’s only real achievement is unifying opposition to its project as the two candidates running for governor, Democratic incumbent Janet Mills and former Republican governor Paul LePage, have both publicly disapproved of the project.
It’s time that “American” Aquafarms recognizes that its dirty fish pens and slaughterhouse vessels do not belong in Maine’s public waters and its 66-million-pound finfish factory does not belong in Prospect Harbor. They have wasted taxpayer funds and have irretrievably damaged the community’s trust.