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American Aquafarms drops lawsuit against the state, but vows to pursue salmon farm again

salmon pen.JPG
courtesy of
/
American aquafarms
Closed pen system for proposed salmon farm.

The company that wants to build an industrial-scale salmon farm in Frenchman Bay near Acadia National Park has dropped its lawsuit against the state.

American Aquafarms, which is backed by a Norwegian investor group, proposed raising more than 60 million pounds of salmon in floating net pens on two sites near Gouldsboro.

But the Maine Department of Marine Resources rejected the company's lease application back in April. American Aquafarms appealed and sued the state in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Attorneys for the state and for the opposition group Frenchman Bay United agreed to the company's petition to drop the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning American Aquafarms would have to start the permitting process anew to pursue the project again.

"It is absolutely our intention to pursue this again," said Thomas Brennan, an American Aquafarms spokesman. "We just really believe that it's time to have a dialogue, to be able to sit down with the department and understand what the rules of the road are and be clear on that."

Brennan said appealing the state's termination of its lease application earlier this year allowed the company to pause and take stock of its next steps. Dropping its lawsuit, in essence, allows American Aquafarms to set a clean slate with the state, he said.

"Having conflict with the state, with the Department of Marine Resources is not the way to a successful conclusion," Brennan added. "We want to have conversation."

The project has drawn criticism from environmental groups and Acadia National Park officials.

“We hope that this is the end for American Aquafarms, but we remain vigilant and ready to challenge any subsequent applications they may file that would jeopardize Maine’s brand: clean water, thriving natural habitats, pristine wilderness and a robust, owner-operated working waterfront," Henry Sharpe, board president of Frenchman Bay United, said Tuesday in a statement.

The town of Gouldsboro passed a temporary moratorium on aquaculture projects and has been drafting tougher ordinances to prepare for the project.