New Law Needed to Save Maine from Monster Fish Farms, Report Finds   - Oceana USA

New Law Needed to Save Maine from Monster Fish Farms, Report Finds  

Oceana says Maine’s regulations lack limits to protect the state’s waters, economy, and coastal way of life from extremely large and disastrous aquaculture projects 

Press Release Date: May 23, 2023

Location: Maine


Megan Jordan, Raigan Johnson | email:, | tel: 202.868.4061, Raigan Johnson

Augusta, Maine — In a new report released today, Oceana outlines how Maine’s current regulations fail to protect the state’s coastal way of life, economy, and natural beauty from extremely large and disastrous aquaculture projects like the one proposed by Norwegian-based company American Aquafarms in 2021. 

If allowed to move forward as originally outlined, this monster fish farm would cover a surface area the size of 15 football fields in Frenchman Bay, Maine, just half a mile offshore of Acadia National Park. The proposed farm would produce 30,000 metric tons of salmon every year, making it one of the largest ocean-pen salmon farms in the world. Oceana says that is nearly double (by weight) the maximum size for such farms in Norway, the world’s top producer of farmed salmon. The facility would also be more than twice as densely stocked as the legal limit for fish farms in Chile, the world’s second largest producer of salmon. Limits on the size (by weight) or stocking density of salmon farms are critical to preventing disease and other threats, while also reducing the scale of disasters like mass die-offs and fish escapes that we have seen all over the world.  

“If this project is allowed to move forward, it would be one of the largest ocean-based salmon farms in the world, producing 1,500 dump trucks’ worth of salmon every year,” said Matt Dundas, campaign director at Oceana. “Right now, there are no clear limits on the size (by weight) or stocking density of ocean-based finfish aquaculture projects in Maine. Without limits, projects like this could destroy everything we love about Maine.”  

The American Aquafarms project would release 4.1 billion gallons of polluted wastewater into Frenchman Bay every day, while also bringing noise, light pollution, and daily boat traffic to this remote and beautiful area. Around 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. In fact, many governments have put limits on pesticide and antibiotic use, pollution discharge, and the size (by weight) and density of fish farming operations. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California have gone as far as banning ocean-based salmon farming in their state waters. Maine is now the only U.S. state with salmon farms in state waters. 

Following public outcry, Maine’s Department of Marine Resources rejected American Aquafarms’ proposal in April 2022, but the company remains adamant that it will reapply. While both Gov. Janet Mills and former Gov. Paul LePage have publicly opposed the project, Oceana says the state’s lack of limits on size (by weight) and stocking density leave Maine’s waters vulnerable to similar proposals.  

A bill before the state legislature, L.D. 1951, would enact one such critical limit, creating a maximum stocking density for marine finfish farms. The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Sen. Nicole Grohoski (D-Hancock County) and co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).

“By setting strict limits on the density of the fish in the pens, we can prevent monster fish farms from ever being considered in Maine’s waters,” said Dundas. “To put it simply, the bigger the farm, the bigger the risk. The only way to ensure that projects like this never move forward in the future is by setting clear limits now. It is vital that bill L.D. 1951 passes to ensure the future of Maine’s coastal way of life is protected.”  


Ocean-based fish farms are inherently risky. Not only can they devastate seafloor habitats and nearby waters, these farms often use vast amounts of pesticides and chemicals to prevent disease and parasites. Most finfish species are also carnivores and require fishmeal and fish oil from wild ocean fisheries. Fish waste and uneaten feed also pollutes the water and can lead to harmful algal blooms. Mass fish die-offs, escapes, and sea lice outbreaks, have also been reported all over the world, wreaking havoc on surrounding ecosystems. Since 2000, there have been several thousand documented finfish farming incidents around the world.   

In April 2022, Oceana released the results of a poll finding that 66% of voters in Hancock County, Maine (where the American Aquafarms proposed operation would be located) oppose the project.   

To watch Oceana’s video about the American Aquafarms proposed project, click here.  

To read the report, visit   


Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.orgto learn more.