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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: USA; New aquaculture rules expand limit on lease area  (อ่าน 2905 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: มกราคม 26, 2007, 03:09:08 PM »

Source: Ellsworth American  World News    26/01/2007 10:19:02

Stephen Rappaport   

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has made life a little easier for Maine aquaculture entrepreneurs.

 

Last week, the state’s DMR Advisory Council approved a regulation that more than triples the total area that a single individual or entity may lease in state water to use for aquaculture. The change was authorized by the Legislature last year.

 

Under the prior regulations, the aggregate aquaculture lease area that an individual or entity could hold was 300 acres. Now the limit is 1,000 acres.

 

The change reflects legislation that gave the DMR commissioner authority to require fish farmers to submit annual plans for fallowing a part of their lease area. To meet the fallowing requirement, the lease site would have to be kept free of cultured marine organisms of any kind for a specified period of time.

 

In the same statute, the Legislature increased the maximum aggregate leasehold from 300 to 500 acres. It also gave the DMR commissioner authority to expand that area by regulation up to 1,500 acres if he determined that such an increase was “beneficial for the management of aquaculture and environmentally and economically appropriate.”

 

In authorizing a lease cap of 1,000 acres, DMR and Commissioner George Lapointe were responding to real changes in the state’s aquaculture industry. Those changes have been particularly significant among salmon farmers.

 

Just a few years ago, three large, multinational companies, and several small Maine companies, held aquaculture leases to farm Atlantic salmon. Most of those lease sites were located in Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays. Several others were located off Washington County, near the mouth of Machias Bay or Englishman Bay. There was also a single lease site in Blue Hill Bay and another just south of Swan’s Island.

 

Today, the salmon are gone from the Blue Hill Bay site, several of the Downeast sites are unused, and one company controls virtually all of Maine’s Atlantic salmon farming industry. In 2004, Cooke Aquaculture, based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, purchased the operations of Atlantic Salmon of Maine, including the company’s aquaculture lease sites, hatcheries and Machiasport processing plant. In 2005, Cooke acquired the East Coast operations of both Marine Harvest (formerly Stolt Sea Farm) and Heritage Salmon. Those companies held aquaculture leases covering several hundred acres Downeast.

 

At its peak, the salmon industry in Maine employed nearly 1,000 people on farm sites, at hatcheries, and in processing facilities. Currently, Cooke, virtually the only player in the industry, employs about 110 people in Maine.

 

Last November, DMR held public hearings on the proposed increase in the acreage cap in Ellsworth, Machias and Wiscasset. The proposed increase drew substantial support from representatives of the state’s mussel farming industry, as well as from a number of Cooke employees and the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA). According to MAA Executive Diretor Sebastian Belle, the increase in the acreage cap “is critical to the aquaculture sector’s ability to remain competitive and enact new progressive farming methods” that will enable the industry members to “reduce their environmental footprint.”

 

Perhaps surprisingly, according to the DMR’s Laurice Churchill, the agency did not receive a single comment in opposition to the proposed acreage increase.
 
 Source or related URL: http://ellsworthmaine.com
 
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