Maine ob­jec­tions to Nordic’s RAS farm

Fish Farmer - - World News -

Erik Heim, pres­i­dent of Nordic Aqua­farms THE Nor­we­gian salmon com­pany plan­ning to build a RAS (re­cir­cu­lat­ing aqua­cul­ture sys­tem) farm in the US state of Maine may face fur­ther de­lays in the per­mit­ting process.

Nordic Aqua­farms (NAF) has ap­plied for a licence to build a $500 mil­lion land based salmon plant in Belfast, Maine, but has run up against op­po­si­tion from the lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal lobby.

Last month, the Maine Board of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion raised nu­mer­ous ques­tions about the ap­pli­ca­tion which, if granted, would see the com­pany pro­duc­ing an ini­tial 13,000 tonnes of salmon a year, ex­pand­ing to 33,000 tonnes.

Dur­ing a hear­ing in Belfast, ob­jec­tions cen­tred on fund­ing, with the board chal­leng­ing Nordic Aqua­farms’ fi­nan­cial plan and de­mand­ing proof it had se­cured at least 20 per cent of the pro­jected cost of the fa­cil­ity in or­der to com­ply with the state’s fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments.

Sev­eral board mem­bers asked the salmon com­pany for bet­ter es­ti­mates of ex­actly how much wa­ter it wants to draw from each of three sources: ground­wa­ter from wells, fresh­wa­ter from the reser­voir, and fresh­wa­ter from the Belfast Wa­ter District.

Nordic Aqua­farms was also asked to pro­vide de­scrip­tions of how it will treat the in­com­ing salt­wa­ter and fresh­wa­ter, as well as the out­go­ing waste­water. These and other hur­dles were high­lighted in a press re­lease is­sued by Up­stream Watch, a group which claims on its web­site to be ‘car­ing for the wa­ters of Mid-Coast Maine’.

The group op­poses the RAS project which, it says, would be ‘a com­pletely ar­ti­fi­cial en­vi­ron­ment for the con­trolled pro­duc­tion of At­lantic salmon’.

‘There is no land based salmon rais­ing fa­cil­ity of this size op­er­at­ing suc­cess­fully in the United States… do we want to be the site of a gi­ant sci­ence ex­per­i­ment,’ asked Up­stream Watch on its web­site.

Nordic Aqua­farms con­tra­dicted the lobby group’s ac­count of the en­vi­ron­men­tal hear­ings and said it would have all nec­es­sary fi­nanc­ing in place and be fully com­pli­ant with the reg­u­la­tions and de­mands in the per­mits.

The com­pany, based in Fred­erik­stad in Nor­way, is the first of sev­eral salmon firms plan­ning to build land based RAS salmon farms in the US north east.

It said it has strong sup­port from ‘rep­utable’ en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, the gen­eral public and lo­cal and state politi­cians.

The com­pany also in­tends to de­velop a fa­cil­ity in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where it hopes to rear around 25,000 tonnes of salmon.

Mean­while, its sub­sidiary, Fredrik­stad Seafoods, Nor­way’s first land based salmon farm, is al­most ready to bring its first fish to mar­ket from its site north of Oslo. It has ca­pac­ity for 1,500 tonnes of its ‘pre­mium prod­uct’.

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