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In the News

Photo courtesy of the Bangor Daily News.

Gouldsboro lobster facility purchased at auction In June, two Schoodic-area businessmen successfully bid in the auction of a defunct seafood processing plant in Gouldsboro. Tim Ring, founder of Ring Paving, and Kevin Barbee of Barbee Construction won the auction for the former sardine cannery with a bid of $975,000. The winning bid was $75,000 more than what Maine Fair Trade Lobster paid for the property at auction 11 years ago. Ring, a current partner in K&T Rentals, said that he and Barbee did not have specific plans for the building but view it as an investment property. After Bumble Bee Foods closed the sardine operation down in 2010, it was revived as a lobster processing plant, first by Live Lobster and then by Maine Fair Trade Lobster. The latest owner prior to the auction was American Aquafarms, which said it wanted to use the plant to process salmon that it planned to farm in Frenchman Bay.

NOAA grants right whale “take authorization” to Vineyard Wind On June 6, Vineyard Wind began installing the first monopiles for its first-in-the-nation commercial scale offshore wind farm. In 2021, NOAA issued an incidental take authorization valid from May 1, 2023 through April 30, 2024 for construction of the 100-turbine project located 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. A team of ships will work with the heavy lift vessel ORION throughout the summer installing 62 foundations in the wind development area. Vineyard Wind’s incidental take authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act allows for Level B “harassment” (which includes acts that have the potential to disturb but not injure) of up to 15 right whales during construction. Commercial fisheries are managed under the MMPA’s Marine Mammal Authorization Program for Level A harassment which includes certain types of non-serious injury, serious injury or mortality.

Blue crabs find new homes in Casco Bay Blue crabs — the most valuable fishery in Chesapeake Bay — are showing up in the Gulf of Maine as ocean temperatures rise. Manomet, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization with an office in Brunswick, has been monitoring blue crabs in the Gulf of Maine. “They definitely seem to be increasing in abundance in Maine, and there’s some evidence that we have established (year-round) populations,” senior scientist Marissa McMahan said. Research from the University of Maine also shows that blue crabs are beginning to populate coastal areas in Maine, particularly in Casco Bay. At the same time the population in Chesapeake Bay has seen record low numbers. The warmer Gulf has made waters previously too cold for the warmth-loving crab hospitable. The Gulf has averaged around 52 degrees F. since 2015 (a nearly three-degree increase from 40 years ago) and is expected to rise to 56.9 F. degrees by 2050.

Water temps hit records in 2022 in Atlantic Canada Ocean temperatures in Atlantic Canada set record highs again in 2022, according to the latest assessment released by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Results from the annual Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program show surface, intermediate and bottom temperatures were well above normal last year. Fisheries and Oceans uses 45 indices — a combination of multiple indicators — to measure ocean conditions related to temperatures in the Gulf of Maine south of Nova Scotia, the Scotian Shelf, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2022, 43 indices were above normal and 16 were the highest ever recorded, DFO said in its report on oceanographic conditions.

An illustration of the planned expansion.

Bigelow Lab gets bigger The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is undertaking a $30 million expansion of its campus in East Boothbay. The new buildings will add needed space for the lab’s scientists and broaden its research and teaching capabilities. The planned 25,000-square-foot center for “ocean education and innovation” will increase Bigelow’s footprint off Ocean Point Road by more than 40% and include new lab facilities and classrooms. Also planned is a two-story, 300-seat gathering space for programs and public events. The project breaks ground in October, with a target finish date in spring 2025.

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