Photo By Ethan Kell

Contentious oyster farm proposal includes two more leases

Photo By Ethan Kell
Shellfish farmer Joe Porada explains his plan for an oyster farm on Morgan Bay at a Maine Department of Marine Resources hearing Monday at the Surry Elementary School.

SURRY — Opponents of a proposed oyster farm in Morgan Bay left a public hearing Monday with news that two additional lease sites are in the works.

Shellfish farmer Joe Porada has applied for a three-year lease on a four-acre site near the head of Morgan Bay. He plans to grow American and European oysters and quahogs.

Many of the 85 Surry and Blue Hill residents, shorefront landowners and attorneys were surprised to find out that Porada is applying for two additional leases.

Those leases, if approved, would encompass another eight acres on Morgan Bay and be contiguous to the lease reviewed Monday.

Diantha Robinson, the Maine Department of Marine Resources aquaculture administrator and hearing officer, told the group during her beginning remarks that Porada had two more pending applications on file with the department.

After more than two hours of questions from abutting property owners and their attorneys, the Maine Department of Marine Resources took comment and questions from the public.

“You sprang on us a surprise of two more leases,” Blue Hill resident Dick McNeary said. “What else haven’t you told us?”

Porada replied that he had always intended to share his plans for the two additional leases during the hearing.

Residents are concerned that if the DMR approves Porada’s lease and he is successful with the oyster farming, Morgan Bay could be filled with shellfish farms.

Part of the opposition stems from concern that an oyster farm would interfere with recreation and negatively affect the area’s quiet, natural beauty.

“If Joe is successful with his leases, what happens if there are other leases?” Surry resident Hugh Curran asked. “Where are the limits? Where do you set boundaries? Can that 200 acres be filled?”

Robinson replied that there are “no limits on leases.”

“Every lease is analyzed on its own merits,” Robinson said. “The stopping point will be when a lease fails to meet the criteria.”

The hearing started at 5:30 p.m. and lasted for several hours. The DMR had planned to resume the hearing Wednesday, March 27, at 5:30 p.m.

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Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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