News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 13, 2013
DMR reopens public hearing in Morgan Bay aquaculture application

DMR Hearing

Surry Selectman Bill Matlock, left, and riparian property owner Jack Pirozzolo, both granted intervenor status, spoke at a DMR public hearing in Surry on March 25.

by Anne Berleant

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has scheduled June 18 for additional public comments on an experimental aquaculture lease site application on Morgan Bay. This follows over 17 hours of expert, intervener and public testimony given on March 25 and 27

“The Department will take testimony from members of the public regarding the potential effect of the lease on their use of the area,” reads a press release issued by the DMR.

The earlier public hearings focused on the description and operation of the proposed site by Joe Porada, the Hancock resident who filed the application, and DMR scientist Jon Lewis, who performed the site review. Also at issue was how Porada would access and operate the site without violating Surry’s

Unified Development Ordinance—which regulates what activity can occur above the mean high tide mark—or a right-of-way owned by Nicholas Sichterman and Mariah Hughes, who filed a suit against Porada in December 2012.

At that time, citizens raised the specter of future multiple aquaculture sites on Morgan Bay, now primarily used for recreation. Porada acknowledged he had filed applications for two contiguous four-acre sites, stating they were primarily to protect access to and operation of the original site. The new applications are now under review by the DMR.

Lawyers representing riparian property owners, Morgan Bay Neighbors, an association formed to address changing uses of the bay, and other interveners also gave testimony at the first hearings.

Any member of the public may testify on June 18 who has not previously testified on behalf of an intervener or other party, according to the DMR press release. People who do testify will do so under oath and may be questioned by the DMR and parties to the application.

Porada’s application asks to lease four acres 2.5 miles north of Jed Island. He plans to grow 227,250 American oysters, 10,000 European oysters and 390,000 quahogs (hard shell clams) in 270 floating bags and 30 cages.

Working with biologist Brian Beals of the Downeast Institute, Porada will test the survival rate of oysters and quahogs in varying densities to see if the operation is commercially viable. Experimental aquaculture lease sites run for three years. A standard, commercial lease runs for 10.

“If it’s profitable, I’ll stay. If it’s not, I’ll leave,” Porada said at the March 27 hearing.

Morgan Bay aquaculture lease application

DMR public hearing

Tuesday, June 18, 3:30-6p.m. and 6:30-9 p.m.

Surry Elementary School