The Ellsworth American reported in an article on Nov. 28 titled “Oyster farm decision still draws opposition” that Caren Plank and I supported the DMR final decision for a lease in Northern Bay, Penobscot. That statement is only half true at best. Ms Plank and I do support the restrictions and denials in the final DMR decision. That is why we filed an appearance to speak to the appeal by Taunton Bay Oyster Co. that is asking for those restrictions and denials to be overturned. With a lease footprint of over 19 acres, the limited and partial restrictions and denials provide at least a measure of protection for important ecological areas and acknowledge riparian owners and fishermen’s traditional rights in the area.
Ms. Plank and I would have liked to see considerably more restrictions in the final decision. We believe the DMR ignored much evidence about ecological issues that could have required more restrictions and denials that would protect the wildlife above and below the waterline in the ecologically sensitive area. We strongly support, however, the restrictions on Tract 3, which is a micro-ecosystem in Northern Bay and supports numerous juvenile organisms from lobsters to flounder to alewives. We want the restriction for overwintering of gear on Tract 2 clarified to protect the lobster and crab fishermen during their spring fishing so their traps will not get fouled in any overwintering gear. We adamantly and unalterably oppose the Taunton Bay Co. appeal effort to overturn the denial of Tract 1, an unparalleled biodiverse habitat adjacent to the cove between Sparks and Aunt Mollie islands, essential for the growth and sustained local harvest of shellfish and sanctuary for significant migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and water birds. We are equally opposed to the appeal attempt to move the northern boundary of Tract 2 close off Sparks Island jeopardizing safe passage through a boulder-, bird- and seal-filled waterway. We anticipate the filing of a brief to address and uphold these priorities as the Superior Court process unfolds.
We encourage The American, in the future, to reach out to us directly to get the whole story instead of making assumptions based on legal documents. If The American had taken the time to interview Ms. Plank and me, you would have been able to write a more complete and contextually factual story. The American should also interview the Penobscot town officials, shellfish warden, chairperson of the Alewife Committee, local fishermen, ecotourism businesses and other users of Northern Bay if you wish to report the full extent of the opposition to the Taunton Bay Co. aquaculture lease and the steps being taken to preserve the wild source and treasure of our lives and livelihoods.
William McWeeny, Brooksville
Caren Plank, Penobscot