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Business and Economy

Bill To Protect Maine's Aquaculture Sector Scuttled After Critics Say It Would Stall Development

Aquaculture Expansion
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this Oct. 11, 2008 file photo, an Atlantic salmon leaps out of the water at a Cooke Aquaculture farm pen near Eastport, Maine.

The Legislature's Marine Resources Committee on Tuesday roundly rejected a bill that was pitched as protecting the state's growing aquaculture sector.

Critics who turned out for a hearing last week said the measure would actually stall the development of small-scale aquaculture farms that are creating new economic opportunities in the changing Gulf of Maine.

The committee's Senate chairman, David Miramant of Camden, said the panel was impressed by the energy young entrepreneurs are bringing to the sector.

"How they've reached out to folks who have been there forever, how they tried to be part of the community, how they support each other on the water. I just couldn't believe what a great job they are doing," he said.

The bill was presented just a week ago as a so-called "concept draft" aimed at reforming state aquaculture regulations. But the committee opted against trying to improve or amend the measure, and voted unanimously that it ought not to pass. That vote included the measure's original sponsor.