BAR HARBOR — More than 125 boats participated in a “Save the Bay” flotilla today to protest plans by American Aquafarms to place a massive industrial salmon farm in Frenchman Bay, just off Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

The boat parade included many working lobster boats and a variety of pleasure craft. Organizers called the size of the boat parade unprecedented and said it demonstrates the depth of opposition to the salmon farm from people all around the bay.

Some of the 125 lobster boats and pleasure craft taking part in a boat parade to protest plans for a massive industrial salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. Courtesy of Henry Sharpe, president, Frenchman’s Bay United

American Aquafarms in March filed two draft lease applications for a closed-pen, Atlantic salmon farm in Frenchman Bay. According to a story in The Ellsworth American, the two proposed ocean sites, north of Bald Rock and The Hop islands, are in conjunction with the Portland-based company’s plan to buy East Coast Seafood Group’s seafood-processing facilities in Gouldsboro’s Prospect Harbor village. A fish hatchery would be built there as part of the project.

In Frenchman Bay, American Aquafarms is proposing to use a closed-pen system described as “emergent technology” that it says will control waste and prevent escapes, two major challenges in the aquaculture industry.

The $250 million project would use closed pens, powered by diesel engines, to raise salmon on 120 acres in the bay. Each site would contain 15 pens, which the company says eventually would produce some 66 million pounds of salmon a year.

The plan has sparked opposition in both Bar Harbor and the Gouldsboro-Hancock area, including concerns among officials of Acadia National Park.

The “Save the Bay” flotilla passes by  Bar Harbor town pier where people holding signs against the fish farm are gathered Aug. 29. Courtesy of Ted O’Meara