Large-scale aquaculture is coming to the crowded waters of Harpswell. The town and state have recently approved a limited purpose aquaculture lease for Running Tide Technologies, with plans to expand into more permanent leases in Ewing Narrows and north of Mitchell Field.

Running Tide describes itself as “a Maine-based … company with global ambitions.” One potential lease would be over 8 acres. Aluminum floats are popping up; expect to see dozens more. This is corporate oystering with little regard for the smaller oyster farms nearby.

As more than one lobsterman told me, “They’re taking over.”

Town and state agencies have gotten into positions where they are leasing the saltwater that belongs to all of us. A century of traditional lobster grounds is being forfeited as gear conflict guidelines are blatantly overlooked. Many folks enjoy oysters, and Maine has many small, self-employed, self-reliant, law-abiding oystermen.

The last thing the coast of Maine needs is a large-scale, disrespectful, metallic oyster industry. Aquaculture leases, when not given due consideration, are affecting our livelihoods.

For all of us – who recreate on the water, who navigate on it and who fish on it for a living – I ask the state to consider looking at how it does business and instead of selling out to corporations, remember it is small business in Maine that makes us special.

Emily Coffin

Brunswick

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