The citizen’s group Save Maquoit Bay and lobstermen from around the state joined forces at the statehouse today in Augusta. The coalition turned in 189 signatures, 39 more than required, to open rulemaking around aquaculture leases at the Department of Marine Resources.
In a news release, Paul Dioli from Save Maquoit Bay said: “First, we support aquaculture when it is good for all parties. With more and more aquaculture leases flooding in, the challenge is to build an aquaculture industry that coexists and does not compete with lobstering. Lobstermen we have talked to around the state are concerned their industry is being overlooked and hurt economically. For example, we know lobstermen will not be able to fish an area that has been fished for generations if the 40-acre oyster lease pending in Brunswick is approved by the Commissioner of Marine Resources“
Lobstermen Tom Santaguida said, “We can’t keep doing this and frankly, it’s exhausting for the lobstermen – who work hard and don’t have the time to keep fighting for our right to the ocean. The ocean belongs to everyone whether its Maquoit Bay or any other coastline in the state.”
Lobstermen John Powers added: “The current aquaculture lease applications in Casco Bay are on prime lobster grounds and the DMR seems to have forgotten the fact that the lobster industry is the number one fishery in the State of Maine. I ask the DMR to listen carefully to the generations of men and women who have made the lobster industry what it is today and protect our livelihood from what has become nothing more than a land grab in upper Casco Bay.”
The Maine Lobstering Union is also supporting the issue.
Julie Eaton said: “We are concerned that aquaculture leases, especially large leases that are attractive to out of state investors will basically eat up the bottom of the ocean floor. We are seeing more and more large leases in the water.”
The petition language asks for an immediate moratorium on leases greater than 10 acres in size. Petition language follows: