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Belfast councillors’ vote favours Nordic Aquafarms


August 20, 2021
By Nestor Arellano

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A rendering of Nordic Aquafarm's planned RAS facility in Belfast, Maine.

Following a heated public hearing, councillors of Belfast, Maine voted in favour of proceeding with an eminent domain action that would allow Nordic Aquafarms access through a stretch of intertidal mudflat.

The decision means that Norwegian aquaculture has cleared another hurdle to its $500 million recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) project in the city and can now run intake and outfall pipes to and from the Penobscot Bay through the contested parcel of land.

There were people from Belfast and members of groups opposed to the project who criticized the councillors for overreach, bias and environmentally unsound decision, according to a report in the Bangor Daily New. The councillors, however, stood pat on their decision.

In the last few days, The City of Belfast, had been reported to be leaning towards implementing eminent domain laws to assist Nordic Aquafarms’ plans for gaining access to Penobscot Bay through the mudflat.

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The company maintains that it bought the land from Richard and Janet Eckrote. However, Jeffrey Mabee, Judith Grace and the Friends of the Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area have argued in court that the Eckrotes are not the real owners of the mudflats.

Nordic Aquafarm’s RAS project is also being opposed by environmentalists that say the land-based salmon farm will is not environmentally sound and will prevent Maine from reaching its carbon emission target.

There are several reasons why the city officials favour Nordic Aquafarm’s RAS project. Belfast stands to gain significant revenue by selling water to Nordic Aquafarms for its RAS facility. The salmon farm will also bring tax revenue and new jobs to the city.

For the project to move forwards, Nordic Aquafarms needs a clear title to the mudflats in order to run its pipe to Penobscot Bay.