Hardwood Island—blue mussels

Friends of Blue Hill Bay president, Don Eley and FoBHB legal counsel, Sally Mills, have attended, as intervenors, Department of Marine Resources (DMR) hearings involving the 15-acre blue mussel farm lease east of Hardwood Island belonging to Erick Swanson, of Maine Cultured Mussels. Mr. Swanson’s original lease expired in 2013. He applied for renewal of that lease in December 2012. DMR did not hold the first hearing until August 2015 followed by a second hearing in June 2016, during which time he continued to operate the farm.

Mr. Eley and Ms. Mills argued that Mr. Swanson had breached the terms of his lease by not having the required (USCG) marking buoys, and by not keeping the lease site, as well as the surrounding areas – including beaches – clear of debris. Last November DMR issued a decision denying renewal of the lease. Shortly thereafter Portland attorneys for Mr. Swanson argued against the decision based on their contention that the lease was well tended during the term of the original lease which ended in 2013. Evidence that the farm was not cared for applied only to the years after the official lease ended and was, therefore, irrelevant. DMR granted the renewal, dated from 2013, for 7 years until 2020 rather than the normal ten year lease.

Friends of Blue Hill Bay will appeal that decision.