The World’s Largest Land-Based Salmon Factory Farm? In Maine?
A Norway-based company wants to build a 40-acre land-based salmon factory farm, in Belfast, Maine. And Belfast city officials are keen to green light the $450 - $550-million project.
But a group of local citizens—Local Citizens for SMART Growth—have a lot of questions about whether the project is good for the environment, good for their city, or good for the state of Maine.
Organic Consumers Association supports the local Belfast citizens' effort to put the brakes on this project. We encourage local officials to explore alternative businesses that are ecologically, economically and socially better for Belfast and the surrounding region.
Want to help keep Nordic Aquafarms (NAF) factory farm out of Maine? Sign up here! We need help with community and media outreach, fundraising, event-planning and more. You don't have to live in Belfast to help organize against this project.
Want to learn more? Attend one or more of these meetings:
- Tuesday, June 12, 6 p.m., University of Maine, Hutchinson Center, 80 Belmont Ave, Belfast, ME 04915. This will largely be a one-sided "dog and pony show" by NAF. More info here.
- Thursday, June 14, 6:30 p.m. at the Ecovillage Common House (reddish building), 25 Village Rd., Belfast. Local Citizens for Smart Growth will host an organizing meeting.
Are we getting the whole truth about the NAF factory farm?
Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim has been making the rounds, trying to win over public sentiment. But many opponents don’t think Heim is giving them straight answers. As Belfast columnist Lawrence Reichard wrote, in the Republican Journal:
In promotional material, Nordic says the facility will have no "adverse environmental impacts." False. Fish produce feces, and Nordic would produce 66,000,000 pounds of fish per year - that's a lot of feces. Nordic says most of that might become fertilizer - might. But the rest will go into Belfast Bay, and that is an adverse environmental impact. Fish feces produces nitrogen and phosphorus, which cause algae blooms and oxygen deprivation for all marine life.
In a follow-up column, Reichard wrote:
Nordic's U.S. operations—which are so far only in Belfast—are incorporated in Delaware. Why would a corporation doing U.S. business only in Maine incorporate in Delaware? Corporations register in Delaware because Delaware shields corporations from liability more than other states. Is Nordic expecting liability problems? At the Feb. 21 public meeting, Erik Heim said Nordic wanted to be a good neighbor. Wouldn't a good neighbor incorporate here in Maine and follow Maine law, as local businesses do?
Those are just two of the many concerns Maine citizens have about the NAF project. Others include:
• There has been no public discussion about selling off Belfast Woods, a treasured public recreation area.
• Belfast city zoning laws have been changed to allow up to 70 percent of the over 40 acres of natural landscape, which would become the site for the factory farm, to become impermeable (hard paving and building footprint). The proposed new zoning will allow up to a 45-ft.high structure. Vent stacks, antennas and solar panels would make it even taller. The minimum boundary setback is only 50 feet. The site adjoins established woodlands and prime recreational and wildlife habitat.
• The proposed facility is 16 times larger than NAF's initial project in Norway, which is not yet even at full capacity. There are no precedent studies to show that it is safe. Plus NAF has no experience with atlantic salmon.
You can read about other questions and concerns here.
In her book, “The President’s Salmon: Restoring the King of Fish and Its Home Waters,” Catherine Schmitt writes:
Hundreds of thousands of salmon used to ascend the rivers of New England. By 1992, no adult salmon returned to the Kennebec River.Seventeen came back to the Androscoggin, and only eight to the Saco. Their banks were empty of salmon anglers.
We can’t help but think, what if Maine invested in restoring the Atlantic salmon’s habitat, instead of allowing a foreign company to come in and destroy 40 acres of biodiverse, natural habitat? Only to produce an unhealthy consumer product?
Sign up to get involved.
Like and follow the Local Citizens for SMART Growth: Salmon Farm on Facebook to keep up with news and events
Call Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim to express your concerns: email@example.com
More on fish farms and factory farm salmon here and here.
Hope to see you soon in Belfast!
Katherine, for the OCA team
P.S. OCA is committed to fighting factory farms, including the salmon farm in Belfast. We are committing resources to this fight, including toward potential legal action. If you would like to support this campaign, please make a generous donation today, either online, by phone or by mail, details here.