Nordic Aquafarms requests a pause to its Maine permitting timeline
Nordic Aquafarms has requested a pause to its permit deadlines from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Maine. The company says it is seeking this suspension to allow the courts for final decisions on the ownership issues raised by project opponents challenging the City of Belfast's exercise of eminent domain.
"This pause will allow the courts to fully adjudicate the issues raised by project opponents without allowing the delay caused by the endless litigation to run the clock on the permits", said Brenda Chandler, Nordic Aquafarms Inc. CEO. "Nordic remains committed to providing a locally grown, sustainably produced source of healthy protein in this community", she added.
Legal disputes from the start
The land in dispute is an intertidal marsh where the aquaculture farm's intake and outflow pipelines were planned to be installed. In November 2020, the Department of Environmental Protection approved Nordic Aquafarms' project as proposed, and specified compliance with all environmental regulations and statutes set forth by the DEP. However, the project has been embroiled in legal action over these land rights from the start.
Because of all these court proceedings, construction has yet to begin at the Belfast, Maine site, which was planned to house a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) as well as hatcheries and fish processing facilities. Its latest legal setback came in February of this year, when the company lost court case after Maine's Supreme Court disagreed with the 2021 Superior Court decision in Nordic Aquafarm's favor.
The company moves forward with its plans
Then, after calling the decision disappointing, Brenda Chandler said the company was "evaluating all options, not least of which is the eminent domain action already taken by the city". According to Nordic Aquafarm's latest statement, the city now owns a major public park that links the upper and lower reservoir trail systems to the ocean, and the expropriation action also provided other public economic benefits to the city and the Belfast water district.
As Bernt Olav Røttingsnes, CEO of Nordic Aquafarms Group stated in a recent interview with WeAreAquaculture, despite the latest setback in Maine, they do not plan to abandon their goal to deliver salmon to major populations on the East and West coasts. "There's no change for us. We're still developing both projects, both in Maine and California", he told us.
About Nordic Aquafarms Inc.
Nordic Aquafarms Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nordic Aquafarms Group in Norway, one of the leaders in the international land-based seafood segment. With production currently in Europe, the Group announced last year the diversification of its operations, with the European operations in Denmark and Norway focusing on yellowtail kingfish and the American operations on salmon.
In the United States, the company intends to develop two of the country's largest land-based seafood projects, one on each coast: in Belfast, Maine, and another in the Humboldt County town of Samoa, California. Their U.S. headquarters are in Portland, Maine, with offices in Belfast – where they have moved into the project site at 285 Northport Avenue, the former Belfast Water District office – and Humboldt, California.