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Gouldsboro voters temporarily block large fish farms, as salmon farm proposal looms

A sign protesting a large salmon farm in Frenchman's Bay.
Fred Bever
Maine Public
A sign protesting a large salmon farm in Frenchman's Bay.

Voters at a special town meeting in Gouldsboro Monday night voted overwhelmingly to impose a moratorium on the development of large-scale commercial fish farm infrastructure in town.

The vote is a measure of opposition to a proposal for a big salmon farm in Frenchman Bay, within a few miles of Acadia National Park.

Backed by Norway-based investors, the "American Aquafarms" project would rely on shoreside facilities in Gouldsboro for packing and shipping product and handling waste from at-sea fish pens.

"The company has said initially that they need community support. They clearly do not have it. We hope they heard what the voters of Gouldsboro said tonight. We don't want anything like this in our town. We don't want this in our bay. We don't want see anything like this anywhere on the coast of Maine," said Jacqueline Weaver, a board member with Friends of Frenchman Bay United.

Gouldsboro Town Clerk Yvonne Wilkinson says that out of a little more than 200 people who turned out, only three voted against the moratorium.

It temporarily bars development of any finfish aquaculture project over 10 acres for a six-month period, giving town planners that time to devise a new ordinance that addresses such projects. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.