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Maine Department of Marine Resources seeks Corps permit to build pens to raise Atlantic salmon in Cutler

Published April 14, 2020

CONCORD, Mass. – The Maine Department of Marine Resources is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with constructing pens to raise Atlantic salmon in Cutler, Maine.


The Maine Department of Marine Resources is proposing to install and maintain up to four, 22.28 meter (m) diameter circular floating fish pens (70m in circumference) within a polygonal shaped area with sides measuring 191m x 88m x 191m x 88m off the south shore of Little River (Cutler Harbor) in Cutler, Maine. The pens will be connected together to form a four pen line and will be secured by 2,200 pound anchors and 4,000 pound granite or concrete blocks.


The facility will be used to raise federally endangered Atlantic salmon smolts to adults in order to then release adult fish to high quality inland riverine habitats. The long-term goal of this project is to increase the production of wild Atlantic salmon populations within currently underutilized vacant habitat contained in Maine rivers throughout the range of the endangered Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (DPS) Atlantic salmon. The applicant is working in collaboration with Cooke Aquaculture USA in this conservation effort.


The proposed project will potentially impact up to 4 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists of sub-tidal bottom composed of silt and clay with depths ranging from 31.5 feet to 38.4 feet mean low water. The proposed project is expected to have only short-term impacts on fish. During the placement of anchors and pens, suspended sediments and noise may temporarily displace fish in the project area.


Minimal impacts are expected from structures or benthic degradation. Based upon this assessment of impacts to EFH, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.


The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps of Engineers in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S. The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, can be viewed on the Corps website at: https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.



Public comments on this work proposed by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (file # NAE-2020-00484) should be submitted no later than May 14, 2020 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division, Maine Project Office (ATTN: Jay Clement), 442 Civic Center Drive, Suite 350, Augusta, Maine, 04330. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Jay Clement at 207-623-8367, ext. 1 or by email to: jay.l.clement@usace.army.mil.


Tim Dugan

Release no. 20-027