Nordic Aquafarms ‘confident’ facing permitting hearing
By Nestor Arellano
Nordic Aquafarms (NAF) faces this Monday night another state level permitting hearing concerning its plans to build a land-based fish farm near Little River in Belfast, Maine. The aquaculture company’s leadership remains positive that the state’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will decide in favour of the controversial project.
NAF will present before the DMR the company’s plans for disposal of sub-tidal excavation material, and its proposed measures to ensure that local fisheries are not impacted.
“We are confident that NAF has provided an application that is in conformance with all applicable regulations, and that a set of fair and comprehensive permits will be issued to allow us to proceed with the project”, Ed Cotter, senior vice president of Projects Maine for NAF, said in a press release.
NAF anticipates that the DMR’s comments will be prepared and issued to the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) in a timely manner, allowing for final deliberations to begin, according to the press release.
The permits are critical for NAF’s planned land-based Atlantic salmon farm.
The facility will be located in a 54-acre property that can be accessed from Route 1 at the current Belfast Water District headquarters. The project is estimated to cost $500 million.
The facility will produce roughly 33,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon per year. The amount is equivalent to seven per cent of the U.S. salmon market.
When fully operational, the facility would discharge 7.7 million gallons per day of treated wastewater.
NAF has proposed a treatment system that will remove more nutrients from wastewater than is typical of other land-based aquaculture facilities.
However, local environmentalists and property owners are not convinced that the system will filter enough nutrients. They believe there is a danger that the nutrients will remain in the off Bayside Village. This, they said, could cause algae blooms that will impact the bay’s ecosystem.
Opposition against the project has been strong. Last month, a couple opposing the plans of NAF, was told by a judge to stop filing lawsuits against the $500 million project.
The Belfast Planning Board has been holding several public hearings on NAF’s plans.
“The BEP can now deliberate with solid, factual information presented to them,” Marianne Naess, executive vice president of commercial for NAF, said. “Unfounded concerns by opponents have been refuted, and legitimate issues can now be addressed through compliance requirements and proper permit conditions that will ensure that the natural environment is always protected.”