Frenchman Bay eyed for salmon, cod farm

GOULDSBORO — A company with its roots in Norway is scheduled to make a presentation of its plans to establish a large salmon and cod farming operation in Frenchman Bay at the meeting of the Gouldsboro selectmen scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15.

On its website, American Aquafarms describes a “closed pen” fish farming technology “that has been utilized to produce salmon for the Norwegian market and beyond.”

That technology employs familiar floating net pens surrounded by a polymer fabric sack in which, the company states, “(s)ediments and waste are collected at the bottom…before beeing (sic) pumped to treatment module” located on the rigid framework of the pen.

According to the website, “(w)aste slurry is pumped through the secondary outflow to the waste tretment (sic) module topside. The waste is filtered out and stored in a removable container or barge before the clean outflow is discharged at the optimal depth.”

The website does not describe how the required pumps and the related pen monitoring systems would be powered.

As of Monday morning, the American Aquafarms website gave no indication of where the company is based or who its principals are. The only contact listed was Portland public relations consultant Dianna Fletcher.

In an email Monday afternoon, Fletcher confirmed that the company would “present its plans to Gouldsboro selectmen on Thursday evening.”

In her email, Fletcher said American Aquafarms was “a U.S.-based company leveraging next generation eco-friendly aquaculture technology,” that is “considering Maine sites for a state-of-the art facility in coastal Maine.”

Already involved in the project are Pittsfield-based Cianbro Corp., Maine & Co., a nonprofit company that helps businesses looking to locate in Maine, and the Portland-based environmental consulting company Ransom Consulting.

An earlier version of the company website identified two Norwegian men as the company’s principals with addresses and telephone numbers in Norway listed as contact points. Fletcher on Monday said the Norwegian company Global AS formed American Aquafarms last year after the launch of “a sustainable Norwegian cod farm with two state-of-the-art facilities in operation” named Norcod. Mikael Rones, CEO of Global AS, is the founder and CEO of American Aquafarms. Eirik Jors, founder and former CEO of a Nordic securities firm, is the company’s vice president.

According to Andrea Angera and Sarah Redmond, who run the Gouldsboro-based Springtide Seaweed company, representatives from the Norwegian company “have been scouting the area for quite some time” looking for sites in Frenchman Bay with the deep water required for the enclosed net pens. In at least two informal, invitation only presentations to area fishermen, Redmond said, company representatives have identified two potential sites for its operation: one off Long Porcupine Island and the other off Bald Rock.

Both sites are closer to Bar Harbor than to anywhere in Gouldsboro and, Angera said, each site with as many as 12 floating fish pens would be visible from many areas in Acadia National Park.

On Monday, Redmond said the proposed project had raised “a lot of concern” among Frenchman Bay fishermen.

“Nobody knows what the deal is,” she said.

According to Angera, the deal involves more than just the floating fish pens. The company has also indicated, he said, that it wants to buy “a facility in Birch Harbor” to establish a fish hatchery and processing plant. The nearest fish processing facility in the area is the former Stinson Sardine Co. property in Prospect Harbor now owned by the Maine Fair Trade Lobster Co.

The selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Gouldsboro town office, 59 Main St., Prospect Harbor. The meeting may be moved to the adjacent Prospect Harbor Women’s Club building to allow for appropriate social distancing.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]