5/31/2001 -- -- Contact:
Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director, Trout Unlimited, (207) 373-0700
May 31, 2001...Hallowell, ME...Three of Maine’s principal salmon conservation groups and Maine’s salmon farmers have signed a precedent-setting agreement putting in place a framework to create standards and reporting requirements to reduce the accidental release of farm raised salmon into the waters of Maine.
The agreement was signed by the salmon farmers represented by the Maine Aquaculture Association, Atlantic Salmon of Maine, Heritage Salmon and Stolt Sea Farms, and three environmental groups, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Law Foundation and Trout Unlimited.
The agreement brings together parties who have often been at odds in the past. “We decided to put our disagreements behind us in order to focus on a proactive, collaborative effort to improve the containment of farmed salmon,” said Jeff Reardon, New England Director for Trout Unlimited.
The agreement, which was reached last week, is a result of nearly a year of dialog between representatives of Maine’s salmon farmers and the conservation community. The dialog has focused on working toward a predictable and stable regulatory climate for the aquaculture industry that will minimize interactions between sea run salmon and farmed salmon in the waters of the State of Maine.
“This agreement establishes a process for the industry and environmental groups to work together over the next several months to develop a better system for keeping salmon in their pens”, said Andrew Goode, Director of US Programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “Our hope is to work with the state and federal agencies to complete this policy quickly so it can be one of the elements in a federal recovery plan for Atlantic salmon.”
The key elements of the agreement include the goals of keeping farm-raised salmon on the farm, the continual improvement of containment techniques and performance, independent audits of containment systems and an immediate effort to identify farmed salmon as distinct between those intended to be in Maine’s rivers. “The elements of the agreement have been shared with state and federal agencies, the Congressional Delegation and the Governor all of who, we believe, support this collaborative approach,” said Andrew Goode.
The Maine Aquaculture Industry Association has received a $500,000 federal grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of a $5 million appropriation secured earlier this year by Maine’s Congressional Delegation for a variety of salmon restoration work in Maine. The funds will be used to hire a third party specialist to design the new containment protocols, the development of an inventory database and to begin the design, testing and phased-in implementation of a marking system. This process will be guided by a steering committee of salmon farmers, conservation groups and the state and federal resource agencies responsible for salmon farming oversight and salmon restoration.
This agreement is intended to allow for the continuous improvement in the containment of farmed salmon and to develop a mandatory, enforceable Containment Management System (CMS) for Maine salmon farmers. This agreement will allow individual companies sufficient flexibility to develop site specific containment plans to meet the standards agreed upon.
“From the viewpoint of Maine’s salmon farmers, we see this agreement as a way to streamline and stabilize regulation pertaining to these issues,” said Sebastian Belle, Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association. “In addition, we anticipate increased review for those companies not in compliance and incentives for positive performance.”
This agreement marks a beginning. While the agreement by itself does not address all of the concerns of the environmental community or all issues relevant for industry, both sides recognize the potential it holds for making significant progress towards the creation of both an economically and environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry.
“This agreement is important to us because we have long been concerned that the accidental release of farm-raised fish has the potential to threaten the survivalUTf fish in the wild,” said Jeff Reardon. “It is in everyone’s interest and especially in the interest of the salmon that all parties continue to work together to make sure the agreement is implemented fully and as soon as possible.”
“We view this as one of the critical components needed to begin to objectively and scientifically assess the real level of risk our farms may present to the restoration of sea run salmon,” added Sebastian Belle.
The agreement announced today will build on prior company efforts to practice effective containment. It will produce a mandatory, verifiable containment system developed in cooperation with the individual signatories of this agreement and the regulators.
Sebastian Belle, Maine Aquaculture Association, 207-622-0136
Des Fitzgerald, Atlantic Salmon of Maine, 207-338-6280
Andrew Goode, Atlantic Salmon Federation, 207-725-2833
Jeff Kaelin, Heritage Salmon, 207-223-9013
Mark Kesselring, Stolt Sea Farm Inc., 506-754-5203
Peter Shelly, Conservation Law Foundation, 207-594-8107
Trout Unlimited's mission is to conserve, protect and restore North American trout and salmon and their watersheds.