Marion aquaculture farm cleanup costs $10,000

Dec 1, 2020

MARION — A $10,000 bill was racked up during the cleaning of Shea Doonan’s shellfishing site, and someone has to shell out.  

Deputy Harbormaster and Shellfish Officer Adam Murphy updated the Marion Marine Resources Commission at a Nov. 23 meeting, after he and a crew spent three days cleaning up Doonan’s site.

Shellfishing sites are allotted to farmers by the town, and are confined to a grant, or site, where gear is used to propagate shellfish. The sites are meant to be maintained by permit holders, but Harbormaster Isaac Perry said that in its previous condition, there was no way for potential applicants to come in and clean up Doonan’s site themselves. 

Doonan’s aquaculture permits were revoked at a Sept. 8 Selectmen’s meeting, where tensions grew between him and the town. 

According to Harbormaster Isaac Perry, Doonan made violations dating back to Oct. 2017, including five issues with boats of his, and nine instances of gear washing up on-shore, a hazard for other boaters in the harbor. 

One of the biggest offenses was when he was spotted by the Harbormaster’s office on Aug. 14 unloading oysters into the back of his pickup truck in 85-degree weather that were not iced, tagged, shaded from sunlight or documented in his log book. 

According to Perry, the oysters looked market-sized, so there’s a chance he could have been going to straight to market with undocumented shellfish that could potentially give people food poisoning.

The state already revoked all his licenses and flagged his application for an oyster transaction permit, and he had been denied this permit since 2018.

Tensions grew further between the time of the Sept. 8 Selectmen’s meeting and the Nov. 23 Marine Resources Commission meeting. 

Murphy was told by Doonan, “I’ll see you around town, buddy,” at a previous meeting between the two in what Murphy described as a threatening tone. 

Murphy also said that there was an incident regarding Assistant Harbormaster David Wilson’s truck, which is under investigation. Murphy did not go into detail on the issue in the meeting, but Perry said the truck was not vandalized in a phone call to Sippican Week. 

“This man’s behavior and actions,” Murphy said, “he’s starting to act on these threats.” 

Murphy said the cleanup was a large and expensive project for the Harbormaster’s department to undergo. 

During the cleanup, the crew discovered there were far more shellfish cages at the site than were indicated by floating markers on the surface. The bottom cages contain bags, where the shellfish grow. 

Perry said that of the around 40 bottom cages, only one or two were marked. 36 of the cages were found outside the limits of Doonan’s site. 

In all, 44 man hours, machine use, and waste hauling ended up bringing the total cost to $10,500. The crew had to clean 542 bags and 40 bottom cages worth of shellfish, which Murphy said “hadn’t been touched in a long time.”

Officials estimated that around 30% of the shellfish taken from the site were either dead or dying. Some of the cages were so overcrowded that shellfish grew around them, leaving grid marks deep in their shells. 

“Any compassion that I had left to make this process easier on Mr. Doonan is gone,” Perry said. 

The Marine Resources commission is drafting a letter to the selectmen, imploring them to have Doonan cover the $10,500 cleanup bill.