Two weeks ago, the public was relieved to hear that American Aquafarms’ application for its finfish farm in Frenchman Bay was terminated by the DMR on a technicality: its source of salmon smolts. As your editorial mentioned, major pollution issues were not addressed by the DMR, and this does not bode well.
I am not alone in feeling that our state’s regulatory officials are not up to the task of protecting Maine waters from the onslaught of industrial corporations that are willing to take advantage of Maine’s archaic and underdeveloped regulations. The passage of a moratorium on finfish aqua-farming by an overwhelming majority of Gouldsboro citizens attests to this general lack of trust, and neighboring communities have also voiced their doubts in “the process” protecting them from such industrial polluting companies.
DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson has pronounced the agency’s regulations as “robust.” I would say this is a big stretch. There are no requirements for a carbon footprint analysis, no scientific measures in lumens of light pollution and no noise pollution standards in decibels at the borders of the lease. The DMR’s standard is that operations “may not produce unreasonable noise or light.”
Additionally, selling Frenchman Bay’s pristine waters for a mere $100 an acre is not robust income. This lease is not even robust enough to hire an additional staff member to monitor the operation. The fact that a recent die-off of 100,000 fish at a different facility occurred with no reporting requirement nor investigation of the cause hardly seems robust. This would never be acceptable with land-based agriculture.
There is an air of arrogance that emanates from our DMR. Its stance is that it holds exclusive jurisdiction over the waters of our communities, and public opinion and common sense are immaterial.
Let’s not grow complacent and believe that we can sit back and let our regulatory agencies work through “the process.”