Demonstrators hold up signs during an Aug. 29, 2021 “Save the Bay Flotilla” to protest the American Aquafarms project in Frenchman Bay. FILE PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Documentary on opposition to proposed Frenchman Bay salmon farm premieres

WINTER HARBOR — On Aug. 17, the Schoodic Institute hosted the premiere of the new documentary film “Our Waters.” The film, directed by Josh “Bones” Murphy and produced by Colin Boyd, highlights the opposition to American Aquafarms’ proposal for an industrial salmon farm in Frenchman Bay from the perspective of local fishermen and small-scale aquaculture farmers who say their livelihoods would be negatively affected by large-scale aquaculture.

The film also featured clips from select board meetings where local residents fought the proposed farm at the local level.

Three of the locals featured in the film, fishermen Jerry Potter and James West and kelp farmer Sarah Redmond, attended the screening.

Also in attendance, and speaking at the premiere, was the film’s executive producer, Mike Long. Long is head of global operations for Parley for the Oceans, an organization dedicated to solving ocean-related environmental issues.

“We’re a collaboration space to solve the climate crisis, the fishing crisis and the plastic crisis,” Long said. “We work with brands, governments, we have partnerships with the United Nations, World Bank, we work to collaborate with scientists and activists and athletes and brands to really create solutions.”

Parley for the Oceans has a goal of changing the way that industrial fish farming negatively affects marine ecosystems and communities everywhere. The group has a particular interest in fighting salmon farms, and partners with an international network opposed to salmon pens.

“Industrialized fishing is ruining our oceans on a global scale, and so we’re committed to working with communities and governments to really look at ways to shift policy around industrial fishing,” Long said. “Parley is part of the Global Salmon Farmers Resistance. We’re working globally to end industrialized ocean-based salmon farming; we’re working heavily with many different interest groups around the world on that.”

As a Mainer, Long said the concern of the people who live and make a living on Frenchman Bay inspires him, as does connecting communities all over the world facing the same problems as people here in Maine.

“I live in Maine, and it’s, you know, we have an amazing coastline here, we have an amazing community, an amazing ocean, incredible natural playground, and we need to protect it,” Long said. “The same problems that my friends are facing in Chile, that my friends are facing in Argentina and in Norway and in Scotland, we are facing here, and that’s foreign investment, big business, wanting to come in with something that would devastate a local community, devastate an entire ecosystem and really change the shape of Maine aquaculture forever.”

While Long said he and his organization do not try to get wrapped up in local politics, their vision for this documentary project, as with the other work that they do, is to spread awareness. With this film, Long hopes to encourage people to take a closer look at issues that could negatively affect Maine’s waters, and hopefully to reach an audience that has the power to make decisions on these issues.

“My hope is that this film gets in the eyes and in the hands of some of the decision-makers, and they take a hard look on why … Maine’s waters are still an open invitation for something like this,” Long said.

Malachy Flynn

Reporter Malachy Flynn covers news on the Schoodic beat, which includes the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Sorrento, Sullivan, Trenton, Waltham, and Winter Harbor. He also reports on the town of Tremont on Mount Desert Island. He welcomes tips and suggestions about stories in the area. To contact Malachy with tips or questions, email him at [email protected].

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