Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation is announcing Jon Lewis, the former director of Maine’s Aquaculture Division, is joining PMFHF’s efforts to protect the ocean.
Lewis said, “I am joining this effort because too many aquaculture leases are being approved without the ability to adequately oversee and monitor those leases. Lease applications are growing quickly in both number and acreage requested which is leading to increased conflict along the Maine coastline. We have a gold rush mentality with aquaculture. PMFHF asked me to join the effort around legislation that would open discussions concerning the size of leases, and the transferability of those leases without a mandatory or even a publicly requested hearing. We need a statewide conversation and plan for aquaculture. Maine has no plan for aquaculture and we need to have that conversation with all stakeholders – the waters are a public trust and should be treated as such.”
Executive Director Crystal Canney said, “We are very pleased Jon has joined this effort. We have heard these same concerns expressed by lobstermen and communities up and down the coast of Maine. We are now hearing from small aquaculturists who believe large, industrialized leases could infringe on the small businesses they own and operate. Maine’s coast is a treasure and we should remember there are those who work, make a living, and recreate on the ocean. The ocean belongs to everyone and should not be put in the hands of a few.”
Lewis, of Boothbay, worked with the Maine Department of Marine Resources Aquaculture Program for 23 years as a scientist and diver and ultimately as the director of the newly formed Division of Aquaculture under the Bureau of Policy and Management. His responsibilities included environmental evaluations of proposed aquaculture lease sites, testimony at public hearings, and monitoring of shellfish, finfish and sea vegetable farms throughout the state.
Prior to joining the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Lewis was employed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for 15 years as a Wildlife Research Biologist with a focus on bears, sea lions, and seals. Lewis received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology from the University of Alaska. He is a United States Air Force veteran.