The company behind a controversial fish farm planned for Frenchman Bay will drop its lawsuit against the state and plans to work to fix issues that sank its previous application earlier this year.
On Monday, attorneys for American Aquafarms, which has proposed growing as much as 60 million pounds of Atlantic salmon in net pens off Gouldsboro, filed a request in Cumberland County Superior Court to dismiss its case against the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The company sued DMR in May after the department rejected its application due to the lack of a state-approved source for its salmon eggs.
Though the short-lived legal battle is now over, an official with the farm vowed Tuesday that this was not the end of the project.
“The reality is we need to solve the issues that DMR has cited,” said Tom Brennan, director of project development. “It’s not very productive to do that when we are in a lawsuit with them.”
Brennan said American Aquafarms would work with DMR and the community going forward to solve the egg issue and anything else that arises.
“Battling is no way to get anything accomplished,” he said.
Whether community concerns can be smoothed over remains to be seen. The project, which spread across about 120 acres in the bay and a landside facility at the old Maine Fair Trade Lobster plant in Prospect, has been one of the most controversial aquaculture projects in the state’s history.
Lobstermen, scallopers, residents, Acadia National Park and several community groups have opposed the project.
Henry Sharpe, a leader with Frenchman Bay United, said he always believed that DMR had made the right decision to terminate the project’s application in April. He called on American Aquafarms to end any plans to re-apply.
“We hope that this is the end for American Aquafarms, but we remain vigilant and ready to challenge any subsequent applications they may file that would jeopardize Maine’s brand: clean water, thriving natural habitats, pristine wilderness and a robust, owner-operated working waterfront,” he said.
Brennan said that another application would be “imminent” and that the company’s purchase of the former lobster plant is a signal that it is dedicated to the project.
“We believe in the technology,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”