Dozens weigh in on proposed land-based salmon farm in Belfast

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BELFAST, Maine (WABI) - More talk about Nordic Aqaufarms' permit application regarding the DEP Monday night in Belfast.

The company wants to build a land-based salmon farm in the town capable of producing millions of pounds of fish per year.

Some officials with the Department of Marine Resources listened to comments and concerns about the proposed facility's potential impacts on not only fishing activities but also the fishing industry.

All public comments will be passed along to Maine DEP.

Some are worried about possible environmental concerns and sediments too.

"To disturb the bottom sediments in this area for the Nordic Aquafarms project, would cause a few contaminations problems,” explained Lobsterman David Black.

"We've been talking about a lot of different parts of the project for a long time, but we think we are getting really close. We've told our case and we feel that all the information is out there for a decision.,” Edward Cotter, Nordic Aquafarms, Senior Vice Pres. Projects said.

Cotter added if they get all the approval they need to build the proposed facility, they'd like to start construction in the summer or fall.

No word yet on when that decision will be made.

DMR is allowing written public comments until March 12th.

Here is part of Nordic Aquafarms' statement:

The last state-level permitting meeting will take place today as the DMR hears the company´s plans for disposal of subtidal 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”, says Ed Cotter, SVP Projects Maine.

NAF anticipates that DMR 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 EVP Commercial, Marianne Naess, the recent BEP hearing was conducted in an extremely professional and efficient manner that allowed for all parties to be heard. “The BEP can now deliberate with solid, factual information presented to them. 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”, she says.

A local group of opponents in Maine have made continued efforts to argue against Nordic Aquafarms´ land-based aquaculture project in Belfast. As is always the case, reviewing agencies have questions and there is back and forth in an iterative process to ensure that all concerns are clearly met. This happens with every project and is a natural process towards permits. The BEP and City of Belfast Planning Board have engaged in months of rigorous and balanced reviews of NAF´s project. All permitting authorities have also found that NAF has sufficient Right, Title and Interest (RTI) to proceed with the permitting process. NAF is grateful for their diligence and patience, says Naess.