Blue Hill Mussel Farming Battle Heads to the Courtroom

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
28 June 2007, at 1:00am

US - There has been a change of venue in the ongoing battle over the expansion of mussel farming in Blue Hill Bay.

A buoy marks one of the many lobster traps set within a biscuit toss of the eastern shore of Long Island.

Last week, Friends of Blue Hill Bay filed suit in Superior Court in Ellsworth to overturn a decision by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to allow the operation of a 51-plus acre mussel farm off the eastern shore of Long Island.

The agency approved a 10-year aquaculture lease to Erick Spencer Swanson (d/b/a Mussel Bound Farms) and Maine Cultured Mussels Inc., a corporation owned by Swanson’s mother and managed by his father, at the end of May.

In February, the Friends of Blue Hill Bay spearheaded opposition to the plan at DMR’s public hearing on the lease application.

Ellsworth attorney Sally Mills said her client was challenging DMR’s lease decision for two reasons.

“It has a lot to do with the technical deficiencies in the lease application,” Mills said. “There are so many gaps. How bad does an application have to be before it’s denied?”

Mills said Friends of Blue Hill Bay was also challenging the DMR decision because of the mussel farm’s potential to interfere with navigation and lobster fishing in the area.

“I’m disappointed at the Department of Marine Resources’ inability to manage the growth of aquaculture responsibly,” Donald Eley, the conservation group’s president, said this week.

Source: The Ellsworth American