November 3, 2021


Proposal for RAS salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, US, close to final planning following resolved dispute



A proposal to build a land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, the United States, is expected to proceed to final project planning, now that a dispute over a patch of shoreline mudflats has been resolved.


Maine Superior Court Justice Robert Murray last month ruled in favor of Nordic Aquafarms in the lawsuit, brought by Jeffrey Mabee and other opponents of the project.


In his ruling, Murray said the plaintiffs in the case possess no land ownership rights impacting the project and that their alleged conservation easement does not exist over Nordic's project area.


Nordic Aquafarms is proposing to build an end-to-end operation on 54 acres, that would have an annual salmon production capacity of 30,000 tonnes, or 66 million pounds, along with hatcheries and fish processing facilities.


The initial phase of the project, expected to cost US$150 million, received state and local permits in 2020 and a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year. When completed, the facility would likely be the first large-scale, land-based RAS facility in New England.


Nordic and the city of Belfast identified a stretch of intertidal land under which the company could run intake and discharge pipes from the upland facility to Belfast Bay.


However, neighboring landowners said they own the identified mudflats and took the matter to court.


In August, the Belfast City Council voted to resolve the matter by seizing the mudflat by eminent domain.


In his decision, Murray called the plaintiffs' theory of ownership a "convoluted reading" of the property description.


Erik Heim, Nordic's president, said that, with the ruling, the project can proceed to final Maine project planning.


"Nordic is in this for the long haul," said Marianne Naess, Nordic's executive vice president and spokesperson. "Nordic looks forward to moving into the next phase of engineering and project planning."


"Nordic has the green light to move forward with this ruling," Naess told Mainebiz in a follow-up email.


Final cost estimates for the project will be completed as the company finishes detailed engineering and planning.


The project planning that remains includes the detailed engineering and construction planning Nordic needs to do before it can break ground. It's estimated that will take eight to nine months.


- Mainebiz