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American Aquafarms appeals termination of its lease application for a controversial salmon farm

An artistic rendering, provided by American Aquafarms, shows what a salmon processing site in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor might look like if it is redeveloped from its current use as a plant for cooking and packaging lobster.
Courtesy of American Aquafarms
/
via the Bangor Daily News
An artistic rendering, provided by American Aquafarms, shows what a salmon processing site in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor might look like if it is redeveloped from its current use as a plant for cooking and packaging lobster.

A company that wants to build an industrial-scale salmon farm near Acadia National Park in Frenchman Bay is appealing the Maine Department of Marine Resources' termination of its lease application.

American Aquafarms, which is backed by a Norwegian investor group, has proposed raising 60 million pounds of salmon in floating net pens on two 60-acre sites off Gouldsboro.

Earlier this year DMR determined its lease application did not properly document how eggs used in the first years of operation would be safe for the environment and for wild salmon.

"Filing an appeal we hope will keep the permit application alive. We did this as a last resort. We are trying very much trying to work within the process, we thought we met all the requirements," said company spokesman Thomas Brennan.

The project has drawn widespread criticism about disruption to the local ecosystem, quality of life and tourism. It's also become the subject of a national awareness campaign by the conservation organization Oceana.

“This company has indicated they're going to do whatever it takes to push this project through,” said Oceana spokesman Matt Dundas. “It’s being sited on fishing grounds, lobstering grounds and less than 2,000 feet from Acadia National Park.”

A spokesman for DMR said in a statement that its termination of the lease application was based on laws designed to protect the marine environment.

“American Aquafarms’ failure to demonstrate that its proposed source of salmon could meet criteria in regulation for a “Qualified Source Hatchery” and to provide documentation demonstrating that the proposed source of salmon could meet genetic requirements in law (§6071(4)) was a major omission that compelled our decision,” said DMR’s Jeff Nichols.

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.