To the Editor:
In a letter sent to the associate administrator for airports, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to abide by its own guidance as well as restrictions it put in place when approving another oyster farm in the area. At issue is the risk seabirds attracted to the farm pose to aircraft.
The letter was written by James W. Coon, senior vice president government affairs and advocacy. He stated:
“As you know, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidance for Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports, Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B recommends that there be no aquaculture within five miles of an airport and that anything less than two miles constitutes a significant threat to aircraft.”
He added that the association was disappointed the FAA did not act to prevent construction of another oyster farm close to the airport.
AOPA objected to the placement of that farm during the 2015 permitting process, but construction was allowed to go ahead with several caveats, including a requirement that the operator conduct seabird monitoring studies for three years after the farm opened.
Coon continued: “Given that the FAA agreed to this study due to a lack of data, we object to the approval of any additional aquaculture sites within 2 nm of the airport until the three-year study is completed and results are thoroughly vetted through the FAA and made available to the public.” It continued that the FAA should issue a “determination of hazard.”
Earlier this year, AOPA attempted to present a formal objection to the new oyster farm during the public hearing process but was denied the opportunity to testify on the grounds that the Maine Department of Marine Resources has no authority over aviation matters.