News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 2, 2012
Penobscot Selectmen hear oyster farm plans for Northern Bay

by Sharon Bray

Mike Briggs, owner of Taunton Bay Oyster Co., and his son Eric attended the July 24 selectmen’s meeting to talk about plans for oyster farming in Northern Bay.

Diantha Robinson, aquaculture administrator and hearing officer with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, accompanied them.

According to printed information Mike Briggs gave Selectmen Harold Hatch, Stanley Shorey and Chairman Paul Bowen, the company is looking at three tracts near Wardwell Point.

The largest area “would be used for bottom planting only…no structures. Oysters would be broadcast from the surface and harvested by diver.”

Two smaller areas “would contain 16 strings of low profile, floating oyster bags… in a neat and orderly fashion.”

The company anticipates yearly production of up to one and a half million oysters.

Penobscot shellfish warden Bailey Bowden asked the Briggses if they are worried about damage from green crabs.

Briggs said somewhat and also starfish, but neither seems to pose significant threat, in part because of the strong current in the Bagaduce estuary.

It takes about three years to grow a mature crop of oysters.

Bowen said residents of Wardwell Point are most likely to oppose the project.

When the company first proposed its Taunton farm, said Briggs, some environmental groups opposed the farms.

“Now we hear kayakers talking about ‘that fabulous oyster farm,’” said Briggs. He added that doubters “realize after a while it really does help the bay.”

Bowden asked about the impact of an eagle nest on Aunt Mollie Island.

Briggs had not known about that nest but said he would look into it.

Bowen told Briggs to get in touch when he is ready to hold a public hearing.

After the oyster farm contingent left, Bowden said he is thinking of getting a license to trap green crabs, which are used for fertilizer.

In other business, Shorey handed out tick removal devices he received from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The selectmen also discussed blueberries and bears, acknowledging the impact the large animals can make on a harvest.