GOULDSBORO — More than seven months after what may have been the least contentious public hearing in Department of Marine Resource (DMR) history, Commissioner Patrick Keliher has approved a lease for a 20-acre fish farm off Stave Island in Frenchman Bay.
GreatBay Aquaculture of Maine applied for the aquaculture lease with DMR in January of last year. Plans call for the company to raise cod and halibut in as many as a dozen 70-meter circular fish pens on a site located about 1,100 feet off the western shore of the island. The rectangular 20-acre site extends 870 feet along its eastern and western sides and 1,000 feet along its northern and southern boundaries.
GreatBay already grows cod on a 35-acre lease site located off the shore of Preble Island about two miles to the north of the new lease. The second lease site will allow the company both to expand its operations somewhat and to let each site lie fallow periodically to restore the local ecosystem to its natural state.
In recent years, many aquaculture lease applications, especially for finfish operations, have provoked intense and vocal opposition. DMR’s public hearings on those applications are often contentious.
The hearing on the GreatBay application that DMR held last November was notably different. The audience included not more than three people unconnected with Great Bay or the department and no one voiced even a single objection to the company’s proposal.