Defending Acadia Against Industrial-Scale Aquaculture

Friends of Acadia stands with the National Park Service, Frenchman Bay United, area fishermen, local municipalities and businesses, and other stakeholders urging state and federal regulators to stop the proposal by American Aquafarms to lease two 60- acre sites for salmon farms near Bald Rock and Long Porcupine Island in Frenchman Bay.


American Aquafarms drops lawsuit against Maine over failed salmon farm application. But the Norwegian-funded company isn’t giving up, and hopes to open talks with the state about a new proposal.

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Background on the Proposal

At approximately the size of fifteen football fields, American Aquafarms’ proposed salmon farms would be an industrial use at unprecedented scale and reliant on unproven technology. American Aquafarms aims to raise 66 million pounds of salmon each year at full build-out, contributing significant amounts of new nutrient pollution to the Bay. Each farm would have five diesel-powered 500-kw generators running continuously to keep water flushing through the pens—up to 6,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water being pumped through each site daily.

The pens and associated barges and infrastructure would be highly visible from Acadia’s hiking trails, carriage roads, and Park Loop Road, as well as from the Cadillac Summit Road, which are all on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is not only scenic viewsheds and soundscapes at risk. Acadia is a Class 1 area under the Clean Air Act, meaning the park is designated to receive the highest level of protection against air pollution and haze.

The Permitting Process

American Aquafarms needs three permits to prevail in moving forward. Those permits are from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Work to Stop the Proposal to Date

  • The Friends of Acadia Advocacy Committee unanimously voted to oppose the salmon farms because of concerns about navigation in Frenchman Bay, conflicting uses of the Bay, and impacts to public enjoyment of the park and conserved islands. We are bringing our case to elected officials in Augusta and Washington and will likely seek intervenor status.
  • Friends of Acadia wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to request that American Aquafarms complete a full Environmental Impact Statement given the significant environmental controversy over the proposal and the fact that the semi-enclosed salmon pens American Aquafarms plans to use have not been tested in the United States. Part of the process of the Army Corps’ review is to consult with other federal agencies, including the National Park Service. Read the letter here.
  • Sept. 2021: Friends of Acadia President David MacDonald authored an opinion piece in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and local papers titled: Defending Acadia Against Industrial Size Aquaculture. Read more here.
  • Oct. 2021: More than 50 people attended Friends of Acadia’s virtual information session on the American Aquafarms salmon farm proposal hosted by Conservation Director Stephanie Clement.
  • Oct. 2021: More than 200 people participated in a public comment meeting held by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the wastewater discharge permit applications submitted by American Aquafarms. Following the meeting, Friends of Acadia submitted its comments in opposition to the permits. Read comments here
  • Nov. 2021: Friends of Acadia joined 20 other organizations and businesses who signed on to a letter from Frenchman Bay Conservancy to Governor Janet Mills urging the state to deny permits to American Aquafarms for two industrial-sized salmon pens. Read a copy of the letter here.

On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, the Maine State Department of Marine Resources (DMR) terminated American Aquafarms’ lease application for two 60-acre salmon pens because the company failed to select a proper source for its fish eggs. The company can still submit an entirely new application, but a restart would likely tack on several years to the permitting process.

In response to DMR’s decision, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection returned American Aquafarms’ application for a waste discharge license. So, American Aquafarms’ application is basically dead in both Maine state departments, for now.  Read more here.

The Friends of Acadia Advocacy Committee will continue to monitor developments and discuss strategies for defending Acadia against industrial size aquaculture. To stay abreast of Friends of Acadia’s effort, sign up here for our E-Newsletter or check back here to learn more about recent developments and what you can do to help ensure our bay and its ecosystem are protected from this industrial threat.

“The scale of this development— the equivalent of 15 football fields—is unprecedented in Maine and incongruous with the existing nature and setting of Frenchman Bay and its surrounding lands. It poses significant impacts to Acadia and its visitor experience.”

Kevin Schneider, Acadia National Park superintendent