BREAKING NEWS: State throws out application for Frenchman Bay salmon farms
SOMESVILLE, April 20, 2022 - The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has used a technicality to terminate the applications of American Aquafarms, after the company failed to fulfill its legal obligation to demonstrate a legal source of fish to be cultivated at its proposed salmon farms in Frenchman Bay.
The source of Atlantic salmon proposed by American Aquafarms, AquaBounty of Newfoundland, Canada, did not meet the criteria for a “Qualified Source/Hatchery” as defined in DMR regulations (Chapter 24).
Additionally, American Aquafarms failed to provide documentation demonstrating that the proposed source of fish/eggs could meet genetic requirements in law (§6071(4)).
No further action will be taken on these applications.
Crystal Canney, director of Protect Maine's Fishing Heritage Foundation, one of more than 20 groups which comprise Frenchman Bay United, said, “We couldn't be more pleased with this result. This is a blow to industrial scale aquaculture in the water and it will result in protecting Maine's future.
“There is a lot more work to be done so this doesn't happen anywhere along the Maine coast.”
Henry Sharpe, President, Frenchman Bay United, said,
“We are grateful that DMR came to this conclusion but it has been a lot of work by a significant number of concerned groups and citizens. The environmental and economic impacts would have been significant. We are asking American Aquafarms to end this ill conceived project now.”
AA was founded by Norwegian Mikael Roenes, who was convicted of fraud and spent more than two years in a prison in his home country.
The fact that he got this far in Maine’s aquaculture system is a story in itself.
AA first emerged in mid 2020 with a proposal to build two salmon farms in the middle of Frenchman Bay over 120 acres. It received a warm reception from Gov. Janet Mills’s administration until it was disclosed that Roenes was a felon.
Nonetheless, he was introduced to Maine’s largest law firm Bernstein Shur, marine engineer Elizabeth Ransom, who helped with siting the farms, and other board members of Maine & Co., a private non-profit marketing arm of the state to evangelize Maine’s rich bounty of coastline assets.
The DMR gave AA an application extension in early 2022 after it discovered the company planned to use genetically altered smolts which are illegal in Maine.
The QSJ will follow up with more stories.