Sunday, Aug. 29, was a historic day on Frenchman Bay. Close to 125 boats representing the lobster industry, local aquaculturalists, recreational boaters, conservationists and environmentalists chugged their way from local harbors to join the protest “Save the Bay Flotilla.” The cause was to bring attention about the industrialized fish pen operation that Norwegian-based American Aquafarms is proposing to the State of Maine through the Department of Marine Resources for licensing of what will be considered the largest salmon fish farm anywhere in the United States. Each boat that participated, along with hundreds of passengers on the respective vessels, resoundingly expressed their opposition to the proposed salmon operation.
As the brainchild and general organizer of the event, the responsible nautical stewardship by each boat operator reflected the safety, respect and overall goodwill about each participant’s relationship with our beloved Frenchman Bay. There is no question that the protest was a major success, and I personally thank each boat operator, the VHF radio operator, passengers, homemade banner makers, drone operators, bagpipers, Bar Harbor harbormaster and everyone else for making this dream come true. Street activism, or in this case waterfront protests, are alive and well. And will continue to be as long as this project continues to show its scary face in Maine.
The synergy of tourism, lobstering, owner-independent aquaculture and recreational boating works beautifully on Frenchman Bay. A proposal of this magnitude threatens all of that. As Jacques Cousteau said, “People protect what they love.” Which, incidentally, was a banner flying on a Sorrento lobsterman’s boat. Take that American Aquafarms! We will continue to protect what we love!