Groups Oppose Applications for Industrial Aquaculture Leases at the foot of Acadia National Park in Frenchman Bay

 May 28, 2021 – Augusta, Me. American Aquafarms, a company led by a Norwegian businessman with a troubled financial past, has been accepted for consideration by the Department of Marine Resources for exclusive use with the state for 30 pens of in-water salmon aquaculture in Frenchman Bay adjacent to Acadia National Park. The application was immediately met with strong opposition from local lobstermen and women, and numerous groups opposing the project.

President of Friends of Frenchman Bay Kathleen Rybarz stated, “We are opposed to growing 30,000 metric tons of salmon annually, covering over 100 acres of Frenchman Bay. One cannot overstate the destructive impact of this large-scale proposal on a bay that already strives to balance multiple fisheries, heavy recreational use, cruise ship visitors and increasing ocean warming.”

“It is incredible that Frenchman Bay is even being considered for this kind of industrial development with massive fish pens in the waters right next to Acadia National Park,”said James Paterson, a year-round resident of Hancock and a member of a group calling itself Save The Bay. “This is simply the wrong place for acres and acres of large, unsightly sea pens, and we especially shouldn’t let the Maine coast be used as a Guinea pig for the unproven technology this applicant plans to use.”

“For generations, Frenchman Bay has supported a robust lobster fishery, small-scale aquaculture like oyster, mussel, and kelp farming, and a host of tourism and recreational activities, Paterson added.  All the things that make this bay special to Maine people and visitors from around the world and all the people whose livelihoods depend on a clean, healthy bay are threatened by this ill-conceived proposal. The State of Maine needs to say no.”

“For me there is something primal about the peace over the bay that no doubt will be shattered by the incessant, jarring, generator din, driving the pumping of nutrient enriched effluent out from the pens into Frenchman Bay on an industrial scale,” said Ben Walter, a member of Friends of Schoodic Peninsula. “The health of the bay’s ecosystem hangs in the balance, and with it the livelihoods of those who have sustainably worked the bay for generations. I feel this proposed development is a threat to the health and very fabric of our community that share and enjoy this magnificent resource in harmony with nature and one another.”

The pens in Frenchman Bay would grow 66 million pounds of farmed raised salmon and compete with lobstermen who have also expressed their concerns. Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation (PMFHF) Executive Director Crystal Canney said, “There are many things wrong with this project, especially as it relates to the deleterious effects it may have on the environment.   On a statewide level, these conflicts continue to grow.  PMFHF has heard from more than 30 lobstermen who fish in Frenchman Bay. They are concerned about the loss of bottom but also concerned that the rules and regulations at the Department of Marine Resources are risking the livelihood of a $1.6 billion industry.”

“We are deeply concerned about the growing number of industrial-scale aquaculture lease applications in Frenchman’s Bay. The scale of the Norwegian-based American Aquafarms fin fish application threatens to destroy not only the pristine beauty of Frenchman Bay and Acadia National Park, but also the heritage fishing industries that have been part of our way of life for more than 200 years,” said Jerilyn Bowers, a member of the Friends of Eastern Bay. “If you live, work or recreate on Frenchman Bay, this is an issue you should care about.”

The leader of the company behind this project was convicted of defrauding investors in Norway.  Though not currently in the scope of criteria of the Department of Marine Resources’ for considering an aquaculture lease, the character and credibility of anyone seeking to gain exclusive rights to Maine waters certainly should be taken into account to protect Maine people and the names of all current and future investors in this project should be disclosed immediately.

Link to leases:

Crystal Canney
CEO, The Knight Canney Group

Podcast Host: North By Northeast


[email protected]