Nordic Aquafarms opponents all lose bid for local council seats

Published on
November 7, 2018

Three opponents to Nordic Aquafarm’s bid to build a USD 500 million (EUR 435.5 million) salmon recirculating aquaculture system in Belfast, Maine, have lost their bids to become councilors in the city. 

Two of the candidates – Ellie Daniels and Jim Merkel – ran as write-in candidates, and the third candidate – Joanne Moesswilde – was on the ballot. Daniels lost her race 2,199 to 691 to incumbent Mary Mortier, while Merkel lost 2,190 to 555 to fellow newcomer Paul Dean, according to unofficial results. Moesswilde was defeated 1,818 to 1,637, losing to incumbent Neal Harkness. 

The three candidates had been vocal in their opposition to Nordic Aquafarm’s proposal, with all three citing the farm as either a major or the primary reason for running for a spot on the city’s council. 

“Joanne ran a really gracious campaign — and obviously, a lot of people listened to what she had to say, and I have to take that seriously,” Harkness told the Bangor Daily News. “It shows people have a lot of concerns about the fish farm. I want to talk with Joanne so she can help me learn what some of those concerns are.”

Daniels has been heavily opposed to the Nordic Aquafarm’s proposal, and is still involved with a lawsuit against the city alleging that officials made procedural errors when enacting zoning changes that would allow the RAS facility. 

Nordic Aquafarms released a statement after the election, saying the company was pleased with the results and that it will continue to work with the residents of Belfast. 

"We are pleased with the results of yesterday’s Belfast City Council elections. The citizens of Belfast have spoken and have elected councilors who support our project moving forward through the permitting process,” the company wrote. “We are grateful to the people of Belfast and their leaders for their support. We will continue to be open, transparent and collaborative in all aspects of this project, which has so many benefits for Belfast and Maine. We want to engage the community in a constructive dialogue going forward, thus we will host a series of voluntary public meetings starting on Nov. 28 to answer questions that the Belfast citizens may have.”

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