Controversy over aquaculture’s expanding footprint in Maine continues to flare around the state, often putting long-time friends, neighbors and fishermen at odds with each other. The latest flashpoint is in Brunswick, where well more than one hundred residents turned out for a hearing Thursday night on a proposed 40-acre oyster farm in Maquoit Bay, which would be one of the largest in the state.
“Aquaculture is a very old use of Maquoit Bay,” says Elizabeth Butler.
Butler has lived all of her life on shoreland near the site, where she swims, fishes and boats. She supports the Mere Point Oyster Farm proposal as an enhancement to the bay and its marine economy.
But, at the hearing, she was confronted by local lobsterman John Powers, an opponent who sets traps within the area of the proposed farm. Powers is worried that the farm would crowd outt lobstermen who set traps in the site.
Powers asked “Have you seen me and other lobstermen fishing in the 40-acre lease site?”
“John you do fish in that, and where do you fish?” said Butler. “You fish in the deeper channels, dear, don’t you?”
“No I fish in the lease site,” he said.
Their back and forth was interrupted by a Department of Marine Resources hearing office, but not before Butler gave the lobsterman a lengthy hug.
He and dozens of others who did not get to the microphone before the 4-hour hearing ended will get a chance for a fuller say on Monday, when the hearing is set to continue. The farm’s backers say their goal is eventually to produce more than one million mature oysters per year in the bay.