STONINGTON — Everybody knows that the waters off Stonington are a rich source of wild scallops. Could they also be a good place to farm them?
Robert Brewer of Deer Isle hopes to find out.
Brewer recently applied to the Department of Marine Resources for a 3.8-acre experimental aquaculture lease in East Penobscot Bay, where he plans to grow scallops on suspended ropes using the ear-hanging method developed in Japan. The technique calls for drilling a tiny hole through the flat “ear” at the base of the scallop shell and inserting a plastic pin with a small line attached. The scallops are hung in pairs along ropes called “droppers” that hang vertically beneath the surface.
Brewer’s proposed lease site is 150 feet wide, 930 feet long and lies about 600 feet to the south southwest of Andrews Island near the western entrance to Deer Island Thorofare. The uninhabited island is owned by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The area is not popular with lobstermen, according to the application, because the bottom is largely soft mud.
According to Brewer’s application, water depths on the site range between 54 and 62 feet at low tide. The hanging line supporting the droppers will hang 15 to 27 feet below the surface to limit the scallops’ exposure to wave action because, according to the application, “scallops get seasick.”
DMR has opened a 30-day comment period for Brewer’s application. The department must receive written comments on the application no later than 5 p.m. on June 19. A public hearing is optional for experimental leases unless DMR receives at least five written requests during the comment period.
Brewer asked DMR to encourage anyone with questions about his application to contact him directly at 140 Stanley Field Drive, Deer Isle, ME 04627 or 322-0569.