Hancock County Voters Oppose Monster Fish Farm Proposed for Frenchman Bay - Oceana USA

Hancock County Voters Oppose Monster Fish Farm Proposed for Frenchman Bay

More than 60% oppose the proposal, and opposition increases after hearing arguments for and against

Press Release Date: April 27, 2022

Location: Augusta, Maine


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314

Today, Oceana released the results of a new poll finding that 66% of voters in Hancock County, Maine, oppose a controversial proposal to build a large-scale commercial fish farm in Frenchman Bay, right next to Acadia National Park. If allowed to move forward, this monster fish farm would result in massive amounts of water pollution — discharging more than 4 billion gallons of untreated sewage a day — while also threatening those that rely on the bay for food, jobs, and a cherished way of life. In a major blow to the proposal, Maine’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR) rejected a permit for the project last week, which resulted in the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) halting its formal review of the proposal. If the proposal is resubmitted by the Norwegian-based company American Aquafarms, DMR commissioner Patrick Keliher told reporters, it would delay the project by two years or more. However, following news that the permit was rejected, a representative from American Aquafarms told Mongabay, “This is not the end. We’re not going anywhere.” “This shows that Mainers, especially those in Hancock County, don’t want this monster fish farm to move forward,” said Matt Dundas, campaign director at Oceana. “While it’s great news that this proposal is stalled, the fight to save Frenchman Bay is far from over. If this proposal is submitted again and allowed to advance, it would pollute the bay, and threaten our fishing and tourism economies. Frenchman Bay has a rich history of supporting fishermen, lobstermen, and small-scale aquaculture farmers, and is home to many others. This area also draws millions of tourists each year, generating $380 million in revenue for the state annually. Right now, all of that is under threat. Our elected officials have an obligation to protect Frenchman Bay and safeguard Maine’s coastal way of life. This monster fish farm has no place in Maine’s waters.” Based on American Aquafarms’ proposal, this project would be one of the largest ocean-pen salmon farms in the world. Oceana says the fish farm would also bring noise, light pollution, and daily boat traffic to this remote and beautiful area, including the transporting of salmon excrement across the bay. In other parts of the world, massive salmon farms like this have also been known to invite disease and parasites, which often require vast amounts of pesticides and harmful chemicals. According to Oceana’s poll, 85% of voters in Hancock County said they had heard or read about the proposal to build a large-scale commercial fish farm in Frenchman Bay, next to Acadia National Park. The poll found that 63% of Hancock County voters were initially opposed based on what they already knew about the proposal, and that opposition grew to 66% after respondents heard arguments on both sides. Statewide, 51% of voters indicated they were opposed to the project after hearing arguments on both sides. Of those voters who oppose the project, 62% said it mattered to them a great deal or fair amount. Conversely, of those who support the project, only 33% said it mattered to them a great deal or fair amount. “Given the clarity of the opposition, locally and statewide, American Aquafarms should not make another attempt at this project,” Dundas continued. “But if they do, Oceana and its partners stand ready to fight back to prevent a monster fish farm from finding a home in Frenchman Bay.” The poll, conducted by Beacon Research, surveyed 673 total registered voters in Maine, including 127 registered voters in Hancock County, between March 19 and 23, 2022. Poll resources:

Maine residents can sign Oceana’s petition to Gov. Janet Mills at https://oceana.org/SaveMaine. To watch Oceana’s video about the proposed project, click here.