Maine towns warned their power over finfish farming is limited

editorial staff

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has warned towns in the state over they regulatory plans to exert greater control over industrial-scale finfish farming on land or in the sea.

A letter from the DMR’s Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson, dated 18th August, noted that coastal communities might be planning to freeze aquaculture or regulate fish farming in the state’s waters.

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The state agency was clear that it alone has “exclusive” authority to grant leases for fish-farming in the state’s waters and intertidal zone, asking towns to allow it to review any proposed ordinances before they are put to a public vote.

“Municipalities have limited jurisdiction in the intertidal zone if they have an approved municipal shellfish ordinance and may be authorized to issue municipal aquaculture permits, but this does not limit in any way the Commissioner’s authority to issue leases and licenses in coastal waters of the State,” Mendelson stated.

“If your community is considering such moratoria or ordinance development, the Department would greatly appreciate the opportunity to review draft language prior to adoption so that we may provide comment on any jurisdictional concerns,” Mendelson added.

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The letter from the Maine agency comes amid tension within Maine over the future of multiple finfish farming projects. Companies looking to invest in the state include Dutch-owned Kingfish Zeeland, local Maine firm Whole Oceans, Norway’s Nordic Aquafarms and Norwegian-backed American Aquafarms.


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