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February 18, 2019
Aquaculture must be good for all parties

Aquaculture must be good for all parties

To the Editor:

We applaud the Island Institute for its support to help grow the aquaculture industry. Developing new markets and waterfront jobs is good for Maine. The challenge is how to build a sustainable aquaculture market that does not compete with existing industries like tourism and lobstering. Sustainable aquaculture must be good for all parties.

Tourism is the largest industry in Maine and contributes to roughly $6 billion annually, with an estimated 70% spent along the coast. When considering aquaculture farm sites, special attention must be given to existing public uses and the impact on shoreline residents.

The lobster industry, worth over $500 million, employs over 10,000 fishermen. In considering aquaculture farm sites, fishing grounds for commercial lobstering must be protected. Aquaculture should coexist with commercial fishing, not block lobstermen from fishing public waters.

As an example, a proposed 40-acre aquaculture lease on Maquoit Bay in Brunswick has lobstermen very concerned. Many lobstermen have opposed and testified against the [oyster farm] lease before the Department of Marine Resources. The lease site is located on productive fishing waters and would unreasonably interfere with lobstering for over a dozen commercial fishermen.

Together with commercial lobstermen, a group of shoreline residents came together and formed Concerned Citizens for Maquoit Bay. The group has been working hard to communicate its concerns with the Maquoit Bay lease and encourage the DMR to create more sustainable regulations — ones that that allow aquaculture to coexist alongside other industries, rather than competing with them.

Commercial lobstermen and CCMB support sustainable aquaculture when it's good for all parties. Tourism, lobstering and sustainable aquaculture are all part of the Maine future. Aquaculture at the expense of tourism and lobstermen is not the answer.

Paul Dioli, Save Maquoit Bay

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