Nordic Aquafarms Holds Informational Session With The City Of Belfast

BELFAST, Maine (WABI) - Earlier this year, a Norwegian company announced plans to build one of the world's largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast.

On Wednesday evening, Nordic Aquafarms along with city officials met with community members for an informational session on the project.

"This is sort of a new way of doing things so a lot of people will need to have more information to understand what it is," explained Nordic Aquafarms CEO, Erik Heim. "So, that's why we are here to help with that."

Community members, city officials, and folks from Nordic Aquafarms gathered in Belfast Wednesday evening to discuss the future of bringing a major-land based salmon farm to the area.

Nordic Aquafarms wants to build a 40-acre salmon farm capable of producing more than 60-million pounds of fish per year.

But, until the project can move forward, the company says it's crucial to hear feedback from the community.

"Obviously it's a lot of local knowledge, that's important for us to understand as we plan, and there is also other concerns, and it's important for us to understand them," said Heim. "So, many times it's a question of having knowledge in what we are doing, so we are trying to put as much knowledge on the table and be as transparent as we can."

Nordic Aquafarms says it will invest 150-million dollars at first, bringing 60 high-skill jobs to the area, and that's just in its beginning phases.

"I think we are very excited about the project for many reasons. For one, it's representing some outside investment in the city. It's a significant investment if the project goes through. They're taking about phase one being $150 million investment, that's unprecedented in Belfast, and plus, you're taking about 60 full-time jobs in the first phase," explained Thomas Kittredge, the Economic Development Director for the City of Belfast.

Officials say access to both fresh and ocean water resources makes Belfast a perfect fit for the facility, but digging into a project of this magnitude can pose some questions for many in the community.

"I think people want to know, how, or if in any way this impacts them," explained Kittredge. "Maybe it doesn't impact them at all, and maybe it does, and this is an opportunity here, sooner rather than later about what they think this project entails. So, I think getting more information out there sooner is better than later, and also correcting any misinformation that may be out there."

Erik Heim, CEO of Nordic Aquafarms says the company will continue maintaining communications with the community, and that additional meeting are planned as the project moves forward.

"The key thing for us is that what we do has low impact, and the other thing that is important for us is that we are welcome, that's sort of our criteria as well. So, all this we will be assessing over the next few months until we complete our assessments here, and then we give it a green light, or red light, depending on what the outcome is," said Heim.

The farm will be built on the outskirts of town on 40 acres of land owned by the Water District and a private landowner.

The project will be done in multiple phases beginning in 2019.