ELLSWORTH — With tempers still simmering after a three-day public hearing on a proposed oyster farm in Goose Cove in Trenton, Department of Marine Resources (DMR) hearing officer Diantha Robinson will head for Frenchboro next week for a hearing on a plan to expand salmon farming operations off the shore of Black Island.
Phoenix Salmon US Inc. has applied to DMR for a 38.5-acre lease for a salmon farm that could raise as many as 800,000 Atlantic salmon. The proposed lease site is located about 1,000 feet to the south of an existing 15-acre salmon farm operated by Island Aquaculture Corp. Both companies are owned by the Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture.
Through a variety of related corporations, Cooke is virtually the only finfish farmer in Maine. Including the existing Black Island site, Cooke and its related companies hold 24 aquaculture leases in Maine waters covering some 770 acres.
The Phoenix plan calls for anchoring 20 heavy plastic “polar circle” fish pens off Black Island’s western shore. Each of the pens would be 100 meters, about 328 feet, in circumference and cover an area of about 800 square meters, or roughly 8,500 square feet. The pens would be anchored in four rows of five pens each on the 1,200-foot-by-1,400-foot site near the mouth of the narrow passage between Black and Placentia islands.
Except for one small lot, all of Black Island is owned by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The exception lies on the western shore almost directly opposite where Phoenix wants to locate its new farm.
In its lease application, Phoenix says it plans to stock each of the pens with up to 40,000 fish — a total of 800,000 fish in all — with Atlantic salmon smolts grown from eggs at hatcheries owned by related companies. Plans are to grow those salmon to market size. The growout period would last 18-36 months depending on market conditions and the growth rate of the fish.
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