AUGUSTA, Maine — Last year, a lease for a 40-acre oyster farm was met with resistance by a midcoast community.
That aquaculture lease is for the center of Maquoit Bay. That's what some fishermen call "prime lobster grounds," and fear their space will be taken away.
A citizen's group, Save Maquoit Bay, turned in a petition Wednesday to the Department of Marine Resources in Augusta. They collected more than 180 signatures.
That petition is asking the DMR to put an immediate moratorium on all pending aquaculture lease applications greater than 10 acres in size, up and down the coast.
"Lobstermen have neither the time nor resources to protect our livelihood from the onslaught of new lease applications resulting in lost fishing grounds and income," said John Powers, a lobsterman from Harpswell.
"Lobster fishermen feel like it's a runaway train at the expense of traditional fisheries," said Tom Sanguida, a lobsterman from Brunswick.
The Department of Marine Resources needs to review the petition to make sure the signatures comply. Then it will begin what's called a "rule-making process" to draft a proposed rule. There will also be a public hearing to follow that, but a timeline is unclear.