Man proposes 50-acre Trenton oyster farm

Posted Aug. 13, 2010, at 11:40 p.m.

TRENTON, Maine — A resident has applied to the state for permits to operate a large oyster aquaculture farm in Goose Cove, near the Route 3 bridge to Mount Desert Island.

According to an application filed by Acadia Sea Farms with Maine Department of Marine Resources, the operation could include as many as 5,000 oyster-growing cages spread out over two 25-acre lease areas, or 50 acres total. Each cage, including buoys mounted on the top, would be about 5 feet long, 3 feet wide and more than 1 foot deep, according to application materials.

The scope of the proposed operation has drawn the attention of other Trenton residents, some of whom are concerned about the effect it may have on Western Bay, which separates Trenton from the western side of Mount Desert Island. Some have formed a group called the Friends of Goose Cove and hired an attorney to represent them in the permitting process.

Recent attempts to contact Warren Pettegrow, the man seeking state and federal permits to operate the oyster farm, have been unsuccessful. Pettegrow’s family owns Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound on Route 3, next to the causeway to Mount Desert Island.

A public hearing on the proposal has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at Trenton Elementary School.

Ellsworth attorney Sally Mills has been hired by the Friends group to represent it through the permitting process. Mills said Friday that the group is concerned about how the aquaculture operation might affect navigation, eelgrass, fishing and other uses in the vicinity of Goose Cove.

Mills said the size of the proposed lease area is an issue for her clients.

“That obviously is a concern,” she said. “At this point, we’re gathering information on the proposal.”

Sheree Castonguay, a resident who heads the Friends group, was contacted Friday afternoon at work but said she did not have the time at that moment to elaborate on the group’s concerns. She estimated that the group had more than 100 members.

According to Acadia Sea Farms’ application, the two 25-acre lease areas would be positioned between Haynes Point and Alley Island. The lease would be for 10 years. If the firm is awarded the lease, it projects to have 500 cages in each lease tract this fall, according to the application. The firm hopes eventually to produce 10 million oysters annually in the two tracts, each of which would have 2,500 cages.

The cages would be kept on the bottom of the bay during the winter and then floated to the surface in the spring, according to the lease. Each cage would be attached to two horizontal buoys that would float on the water’s surface during the warmer months.

According to Diantha Robinson, aquaculture administrator for the Department of Marine Resources, state officials have conducted a site visit to the proposed location. Divers conducted a survey of the lease area bottom and documented natural conditions and area activity, she said recently.

According to the resulting report, there was no eelgrass and there weren’t any lobster traps in the proposed lease area during the June 30 site survey. Marine species seen in the proposed lease area include worms, snails and crabs.

More information on the proposal is available online from the Department of Marine Resources at www.maine.gov/dmr/aquaculture/documents/acadiaseafarmstrenton2010.pdf.

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