American Aquafarms, a multimillion-dollar company, has applied to lease over 100 acres of the ocean for salmon farming in lucrative Frenchman Bay fishing grounds.
The proposed dual leases are to cover 50 and 60 acres on the ocean surface, but there is no telling how much additional space the pens will cover with ropes and anchors on prime fishing bottom. The 100-plus-foot barge that tends the expansive and invasive pens would hinder commercial fishing and possibly cut off gear as it travels.
As a local fisherman, I’m concerned about the livelihood of myself as well as others. These are rich lobstering grounds and the site is one of the worst possible areas for an industrial aquaculture company to set up shop. American Aquafarms portrays themselves as bringing many benefits to the local economy; in reality, their massive presence will bring minimal positive impacts and could harm a community that relies on smaller fishermen and local product.
Concern about space is not all we are worried about; salmon pens are notorious for leaking fish excrement, which can have devastating effects on lobsters, as well as other seafood harvested for a living. The pens could have long-lasting environmental effects that go beyond just the area right next to the salmon pens. Who knows how far the tides will carry excrement? All in all, the Department of Marine Resources owes it to Maine fishermen to take a closer look at the potential disasters these leases and pens could bring.