Seagulls May Gum Up Oyster Farm Plan

TRENTON — Seagulls attracted to a proposed 50-acre oyster farm at the mouth of Goose Cove could pose a hazard to aircraft approaching the main runway at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor airport from the south, according to airport manager Allison Navia.


“The proposed farm is located on the center line of the approach to our carrier runway,” she said. “If it attracts birds – even if they aren’t eating, if they are just resting there – it could be pretty bad.”

She said the concern is that birds flying to and from the oyster cages, which would float on the surface of the water in the summer months, could collide with planes.

“If an aircraft is coming in for an instrument landing in inclement weather, (the pilot) might not even see them,” she said.

Ms. Navia cited a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “advisory circular” titled Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports. The advisory states: “For all airports, the FAA recommends a distance of five statute miles between the farthest edge of the airport’s AOA (air operations area) and the hazardous wildlife attractant if the attractant could cause hazardous wildlife movement into or across the approach or departure airspace.”

Ms. Navia said both of the proposed 25-acre sites for the oyster farm are well within the recommended five-mile limit. One site would be 1.5 miles from the end of the runway; the second would be 2.1 miles away.

The FAA advisory circular specifically addresses concerns about aquaculture operations, such as oyster farms.

“Aquaculture activities conducted outside of fully enclosed buildings are inherently attractive to a wide variety of birds,” the circular says. “Airport operators should…oppose the establishment of new aquaculture facilities/activities within the separations listed (in the circular).”

Ms. Navia said the airport isn’t opposed to new commercial activities in Trenton, but if an oyster farm is developed, it should be in a different location.

Public hearing Monday

Trenton resident Warren Pettegrow has applied to the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) for 10-year aquaculture leases for the two Goose Cove sites. His application states that the farm could have as many as 5,000 cages with 10 million oysters.

The DMR will hold a public hearing on the proposed oyster farm on Monday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. at Trenton Elementary School.

It is unclear what influence the airport’s opposition might have on the DMR’s ultimate decision because the department’s stated criteria for approving or denying aquaculture leases are very specific.

To deny a lease, the DMR must find that an aquaculture operation would interfere with at least one of the following: navigation, fishing or other uses of the area, significant wildlife or marine habitat, the coming and going of shorefront landowners, or the public’s use and enjoyment of public parks or facilities.

More than 60 property owners around Western Bay, including Goose Cove, have organized to fight the aquaculture application. In June, the Trenton board of selectmen voted unanimously to oppose it, as well.

In addition to approval from the state, the project also would have to secure a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more political news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.


Fenceviewer Staff

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