An oyster farmer pours several oysters onto a table at a Maine aquaculture facility in this BDN file photo. A boom in applications for aquaculture facilities and pushback from lobstermen has caused state marine officials to consider a moratorium on new leases for large aquaculture sites. Credit: Brian Feulner | BDN

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing this month on a proposed moratorium on new leases for aquaculture sites of more than 10 acres.

The hearing is in response to a petition from lobster harvesters and coastal land owners who want the department to strengthen its consideration of alternative sites for proposed aquaculture when they may interfere with other uses. The petitioners, many of them from the Brunswick area, are also calling for any new rules to be retroactive, so they would apply to a controversial oyster farm proposed for Brunswick’s Maquoit Bay.

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This year alone the DMR has received some 27 applications for new aquaculture leases, totaling more than 300 acres. All but a handful are for fewer than 10 acres, but one seasonal seaweed farm proposed off Falmouth and Cumberland would cover 200 acres.

DMR’s public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22 at 5 p.m. at its Augusta headquarters.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.