Re: “Our View: Aquaculture wrong target for protests” (Dec. 16):

Nobody objects to wild salmon – they were plentiful in Penobscot Bay from the time that fishways became mandatory at dam sites until mobile net gear (trawlers and seiners) became ubiquitous in the Gulf of Maine and offshore to the salmon feeding waters near Greenland. Later, 19th and early 20th century United States Fish Commission records show that thousands were caught in weirs and on flies in 15 or 20 towns around the Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay.

The issue here is what the effluent from a giant fish factory may do to the rest of the bay’s ecosystem. The system used to support several thousand local people for much of the year – 500 small-boat fishermen taking cod and haddock, as well as over 220 weirs taking smelt, alewives, tomcod, cunner, herring and the occasional 500-pound tuna. Fish brought in from away (Asia, for instance) to feed the factory salmon may introduce a virgin soil epidemic into our ecosystem, and set the bay’s recovery back another century.

When the bay was healthy, the proceeds of the fishery were distributed in every town on the water. Not a penny went to Norwegian stockholders. Read the U.S. Census for 1880 to see what the bay’s ecosystems produced then – its value today would be in the order of $15 million to $16 million, even before the lobsters, clams, scallops, cod, haddock, halibut, tuna and other fish were counted.

These foreigners come in for one reason only: to make profits they can send home. They don’t care what damage they may do to an ecosystem that thrived before they came. They could destroy the entire ecosystem and still send their profits back to Norway.

William Leavenworth


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