The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

“No” to Fish Farm Next to Acadia National Park

GOULDSBORO, Maine — When lobster prices rose this year, it provided a boost for Zach Piper, a 27-year-old lobsterman who earns his living on Maine’s Frenchman Bay with 800 traps and a 31-foot boat named Overtime.

“If you go hard and want to do it, there’s money to be made. … A good week is 10, 15 grand, but we only get two months of it,” said Piper, who began lobstering at 16 and lives in a house once occupied by his great-grandparents.

But Piper says threats to this way of life have mounted in recent years, with proposals to build wind farms, close off waters for aquaculture projects and increase protections for endangered Atlantic right whales.

For Piper, the latest menace comes from overseas: a Norwegian-backed company touting plans to build two 60-acre salmon pens in the bay next to Acadia National Park, close to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast and one of the most popular tourist spots in New England (Greenwire, Oct. 4).

“Why are we letting some foreign company come in and buy up our water? It doesn’t make any sense,” said Piper, a board member of an opposition group called Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation. “Once they get that, nobody else can use it but them.”

The plan to bring large-scale aquaculture to the pristine waters of Frenchman Bay has divided the region, pitting lobstermen who fear the project will only bring more pollution against backers who say it could deliver more than 100 good-paying jobs and help slow the flood of imported seafood.

The issue is heating up this week in Gouldsboro, a town of 1,700 on the bay. At a special townwide meeting last night, more than 200 voters showed up and overwhelmingly approved a six-month ban on all aquaculture development.

The tensions in this corner of Maine mirror the national debate in Washington and across the country, where supporters view fish farming as a way to improve U.S. food security by producing more locally grown food but opponents worry the cost will be too high for the environment.

Local critics in Gouldsboro have found an ally in the National Park Service, which voiced its objections to a project so close to Acadia. Park officials fear the huge fish pens could chase away visitors, with more noise, damaged air quality and a rise in ocean acidification.

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