Nordic Aquafarms has obtained a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit that was the last official permitting obstacle to its planned construction of a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm to grow Atlantic salmon in Belfast, Maine.

The Fredrikstad, Norway-based company announced the acquisition of the permit and said it is “no ready to move into the final stages of engineering and construction planning” for the facility. The company was granted a state permit for the project by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection in November 2020.

“It has been a long and comprehensive process and we would like to thank all the hardworking permitting authorities that have been involved,” Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim said. “They have dotted every I and crossed every T – the permits are robust. We are now the first fully permitted larger RAS project in Maine, and the most centrally located one.”

The company first announced its plans to build a facility in Belfast in January 2018 and has since been navigating through local, state, and federal permitting. Opponents of the project filed multiple objections, and according to Heim there are still some outstanding appeals on some of the company’s permits.

“We have assessed those thoroughly and are very comfortable with the risk. We won every argument against local opponents and their misinformation in the permitting process. We look forward to moving ahead in short order,” Heim said.

A separate dispute over the ownership of intertidal land where the company plans to route inflow and outflow pipes may be nearing resolution after the Belfast, Maine City Council voted unanimously last week to pursue eminent domain to take over the area.

According to Maine Public, the councilors hope to end the legal dispute over the intertidal land.

"The bottom line is that after three-and-a-half years, this has gone on three-and-a-half years," Councilor Michael Hurley said during a council meeting. "The opposition has lost every single legal battle. Their entire approach was it didn't matter if they win, they were going to exhaust Nordic through time and money."

Nordic Aquafarms said the project will bring “economic development and good paying jobs to Belfast, Maine.”

“It will provide substantial benefits to the local water district and the community, including a new waterfront park by the ocean granted to the city by Nordic Aquafarms,” the company said. “Nordic Aquafarms’ project has strong community and political support with substantial benefits flowing to Belfast and its residents.”

This article was originally published on SeafoodSource.com and is republished here with permission.

Chris Chase is the Portland, Maine-based associate editor of SeafoodSource. Previously, he worked covering local issues at the Coastal Journal in Bath, Maine, where he won multiple awards from the Maine Press Association for his news coverage and food reviews. Chris is a graduate of the University of Maine, and got his start in writing by serving as a reporter and later the State Editor of The Maine Campus, an award-winning campus newspaper.

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