Frenchman Bay Cod Farm Closes Up Shop

SORRENTO — Almost one year to the day after it received approval from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) for a 20-acre cod farm in Frenchman Bay, Great Bay Aquaculture of Maine, LLC, has apparently pulled up stakes and gone home.

Late in 2011, the company applied for a 10-year aquaculture lease that would allow it to raise up to 300,000 codfish in fish pens off the western side of Stave Island.

In 2009, the company won approval for a 10-year lease on about 35 acres off Preble Island, about 1.9 miles northwest of the Stave Island site. Great Bay stocked the Preble Island site with about 250,000 cod. Fish harvested from the farm were primarily sold live to fish mongers in urban markets in the Northeast.

“The cod place is closed,” Jon Lewis, a DMR aquaculture biologist, said on Monday. “They pulled the pens and gear and are closing up shop. They took the fish out of the water a couple of weeks ago.”

When DMR held a hearing on Great Bay’s application in November 2011, company President Mordecai Levovitz said cod production at the Preble Island site was too small to allow the company to sell both live fish and to expand into the fresh filet market.

Although the cod are gone, aquaculture may not be entirely forgotten on the Preble Island site on which Sorrento fisherman James West is a co-lessee with Great Bay.

According to Lewis, West is considering plans to farm mussels or seaweed on the site once Great Bay removes all of its gear and DMR determines that the lease area has been entirely cleaned up.

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