It was very disturbing to read the article on March 11 about the proposed salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. It would be good to be very wary about this proposal. We have seen similar things in the past: A company approaches a town, making promises of lots of “local” job opportunities, sustainability, the highest environmental standards and new, improved technologies, but over time the community sees a trail of broken promises, water pollution and environmental deterioration.
Frenchman Bay, adjacent to Acadia National Park, is home to beautiful clean waters, a thriving tourist industry consisting of whale watching boats, shore and wildlife watching boats, cruise ships, private sailboats, motorboats and kayakers, a seasonal ferry, as well as several dozen small-scale lobster, mussel, oyster and seaweed operations owned by private local fishermen and women operators. All these have a vested interest in keeping these waters sustainable and clean.
The salmon farm operation would transform this area into an industrial area with large commercial vessels, described as “barges and other craft,” transporting the collected fish wastes, consisting of feces and food, as well as harvested salmon from the pens back to the mainland for continuation of the industrial aspect by transforming to biogas and fertilizer.
The current “closed pen” “emergent technology” proposal touts processes that would allegedly address major challenges such as waste control, fish escapes, reducing sea lice infestation and high mortality and “reducing” antibiotic use. But fish farms have been notorious in the past for serious ecological problems such as diseased fish, escaping fish mixing with the wild native salmon population, antibiotic use in fish for treating infections, high mortality and sea lice. It would be good to remember that the proposal also includes, while initially consisting of two pens, the potential increase in the number of pens to adding 10 pens per year over several years.
The CEO of the currently Norwegian-owned company has in the past been convicted of multiple counts of fraud, spending four years in prison and paying restitution of more than $1 million. He confirmed the charges and stated he “made some promises he could not keep.” So why should Mainers believe or trust him now to keep his promises about the technology and for holding the beautiful waters of Frenchman Bay and the livelihoods of Mainers in his hands.