American Aquafarms set to buy Maine Fair Trade facility

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.  – East Coast Seafood Group’s Chief Executive Officer William Blais confirmed Thursday night that the company expects to complete the sale Friday, April 29, of its shuttered Maine Fair Trade Lobster complex in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor to American Aquafarms.

“MFTL [Maine Fair Trade Lobster] has been under contract for well over a year,” Blais reported in an email Thursday night. “And yes we expect to finally close tomorrow. I don’t expect any further delays.”

American Aquafarms’ Project Manager Tom Brennan did not respond to The American’s request via telephone or email to further confirm or comment on the sale’s closing. News of the expected sale of the century-plus, seafood-processing facility follows Gouldsboro Selectmen’s 4-0 vote Thursday night to extend its present finfish aquaculture moratorium for another six months.  Both Gouldsboro Town Manager Eve Wilkinson and Planning Board Chairman Ray Jones said the extra time was needed to further review and refine a draft aquaculture licensing ordinance and possible amendments to the town’s site plan, land use and other ordinances to better regulate industrial-scale, fish-processing operations in town such as American Aquafarms’ project.

“This has been an extraordinary thing,” Select Board Chairman Dana Rice commented, referring to the controversy over and proceedings regarding American Aquafarms’ proposed plan. “I think it is going to take some time to make it right and fair for everybody.”

Since mid-October in 2020, American Aquafarms has sought to raise 66 million pounds of Atlantic salmon off Bald Rock Ledge and Long Porcupine Island in Frenchman Bay. Last week, the Maine departments of Marine Resources and Environmental Protection terminated the Norwegian-backed company’s lease and wastewater permit applications. Regulators cited the company’s failure to furnish a qualified source of Atlantic salmon eggs and juvenile fish and comply with state genetic standards and requirements as grounds for the two DMR applications’ termination. The DEP’s dismissal of the two wastewater discharge license applications was based on the fact the proposed Bald Rock Ledge and Long Porcupine Island sites were no longer in the running as a result of the DMR applications’ termination.

“We fully intend to carry our opposition forward,” Friends of Schoodic co-founder and Gouldsboro resident Jackie Weaver told Selectmen Thursday night. “We are still building what is already a very strong case against this project. The fight is far from over.”


Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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