Nordic Aquafarms Inc., the company planning a large salmon recirculating aquaculture system in Belfast, Maine, U.S.A., has been granted state-level permits via a unanimous vote by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP).
The acquisition of state permits is the result of nearly two years of work on the permitting process, which was marked by interruptions from local opposition. Local opponents filed multiple objections to the permitting process, before the permits were found to be complete in June 2019.
The Maine BEP met in May to discuss the four separate permits that the company needs for the site: A discharge permit, a site law permit, a natural resources permit, and an air emissions permit. Now, Nordic Aquafarms has gained unanimous approval of all four of the permits, clearing a significant hurdle for the company's effort to build the facility.
“We want thank the BEP and the DEP staff for their effort in assessing the applications. Nordic Aquafarms is comfortable with the permit conditions that have been included in the permits,” Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim said. “Permitting RAS aquaculture facilities of this scale is uncharted territory in Maine and Nordic Aquafarms strongly believes that strict regulations and conditions will ensure that land-based aquaculture can be safely developed in Maine both now and in the future. The BEP has set a precedent that will ensure that the Maine seafood industry will continue to represent the highest quality in the market.”
With the state permits secured, the company now has to secure local and federal permits to be able to start construction. Nordic Aquafarms Executive Vice President Commercial Marianne Naess said the company is “looking forward to conclusions on outstanding issues,” and is ready to begin construction once the company is “comfortable with the way forward.”
The permit approval signifies a victory over local opponents to the project, Naess said.
“Nordic Aquafarms has always been willing to listen to opposing arguments and has gone to great length to address any issue that has come up. During this process though, there have been several attempts on discrediting both the science behind the application and the company,” she said. “Nordic is encouraged that science prevails in this process.”
In addition to securing the state permits in Maine, Nordic Aquafarms also submitted the last permit application for the development of its Humboldt County, California, U.S.A. project. That project, announced in February 2019, has the potential to be a USD 400 million (EUR 337 million) project.
“We have worked closely with both local and national vendors in developing the permit applications, and we are very satisfied that we reached this milestone on time despite challenges working out of different locations due to the current pandemic situation,” Naess said.
The company said it has received “strong local support,” and is currently working with the local College of the Redwoods on workforce development for the planned facility.
“One of the reasons we chose Humboldt is the great community for future employees to live and work,” Naess said. “With institutions ... and their academic programs, we are confident that we will find most of our future employees in Humboldt.”
Image courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms Inc.