Prospect man plans Bagaduce River oyster farm


PENOBSCOT — If anything can stir more controversy than kneeling NFL football players, it might be a plan to expand oyster farming in the Bagaduce River.

Last week, the Department of Marine Resources announced that Prospect resident Joe Rego, president of Clearwater Seafood Inc., would host a scoping session to introduce his plan to apply for an aquaculture lease to raise oysters on an approximately 3.5-acre site located to the north of the reversing falls. The site is near the Bagaduce Lunch and the bridge that carries routes 175 and 176 across the Bagaduce River and about 1,200 to 1,300 feet distant from the Brooksville town landing.

The scoping session is a required prerequisite to filing an aquaculture lease application with the Department of Marine Resources and is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, at the Penobscot Elementary School. If weather intervenes, the hearing will be held one week later at the same time and location.

Rego currently has three Limited Purpose Aquaculture (LPA) licenses, each for a single 400-square-foot operation, located in the proposed lease area.

According to a statement Rego filed with DMR, Clearwater plans to use three methods to grow oysters on the proposed lease site: in floating bags; broadcast onto the river bottom; and on top of a substrate of plastic predator netting spread on the river bottom.

Initially, the proposal calls for the use of between 800 and 900 floating bags. Last year, Rego set at least 150 bags, he said, on his three more or less contiguous LPAs with a total area of slightly more than a quarter-acre. The floating bags would be removed from the water by Dec. 31 and bagged oysters would winter over in sunken bags concentrated on a small area of the lease site.

As many as 90,000 oysters could be seeded on the predator nets.

Clearwater plans to access the site from Brooksville’s town landings, the causeway across the reversing falls in Sedgwick, the Penobscot town landing and the Castine town landing. Harvest operations would continue year-round, weather permitting, primarily using small, outboard-powered boats.

Oyster farming is a touchy subject around the Bagaduce watershed. Two oyster leases already occupy nearly 10 acres southeast of the reversing falls bridge and an application by Taunton Bay Oyster Co. for a lease to grow oysters on three sites totaling about 23.75 acres near the entrance to Northern Bay drew ferocious opposition at a public hearing in January.

DMR has yet to release a decision on the Taunton Bay application.

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]

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