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Battle for Mussel Farm Licence

US - A battle for a licence for a mussel farm near Bean Island off the Maine coast came to Department of Marine Resources hearing this week.

Aquaculture Harvesters LLC is asking the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to rent 32.49 acres of ocean bottom in Sorrento’s Sullivan Harbor for the culture of blue sea mussels.

The application, which was filed in June last year, has led to a dispute between the aquaculture company and recreational boaters in the area.

According to The Ellsworth American one longtime summer resident, Francis Ballard, was one of about a half dozen persons who said the area in question is heavily trafficked by sailboats, kayaks and powerboats in July and August.

He asked the president of the company, Mattheus de Koning how much of the seeding, monitoring, husbandry and harvesting would take place in the busy summer months.

"We're lucky here. There is no seeding in summer. And we don’t like to harvest in July and August," Mr de Koning is reported to have told the hearing.

The company uses two vessels to harvest.

Mr Ballard said he had spoken to the De Konings that morning after finding out about the hearing. He said they were discussing a private agreement with Sorrento residents to avoid seeding and harvesting in those two months other than under unusual circumstances.

Another summer resident, Harold Clark, said it was important for him to be able to use his boat when he is in the area, The Ellsworth American reports.

Diantha Wilson, the aquaculture hearing officer for the state Department of Marine Resources, at first suggested that the stipulation on when seeding and harvesting take place be included in the lease agreement.

Fiona de Koning of Aquaculture Harvesters said it would be problematic to do so.

"This would be a serious limitation. The structure of the conditions has strict consequences for the lessee," she said.

Wilson said later that she didn’t realize the de Konings had a private arrangement in at least one other case to minimize boater disruption, and that it had gone well.

A proposed decision is to be drawn up for review by Aquaculture Harvesters and the draft will then be finalised sent to the commissioner of DMR for a final decision.

View The Ellsworth American story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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