Nordic Aquafarms has the land and civic support for a land-based salmon in Belfast, but access to the sea is in doubt.

Nordic bids for pause on permit time limits in Maine

Land-based salmon farm developer asks for deadlines to be frozen until court case is resolved


Nordic Aquafarms, which plans a large land-based salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, has requested a pause to its permit deadlines from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) until a court action brought by opponents of the project is resolved.

In a press release, Nordic said that in November 2020, the DEP approved its project, as proposed, and specified compliance with all environmental regulations and statutes set forth by the DEP.

Nordic said it seeks suspension of the DEP permits to allow for final court decisions on the property issues raised by project opponents contesting the City of Belfast’s exercise of eminent domain (compulsory purchase).

Public benefits

Nordic said the city council now owns a significant public park joining the city’s Upper and Lower Reservoir trail systems to the ocean. It added that the eminent domain action also provided other economic public benefits to the city and the Belfast Water District.

Brenda Chandler: Nordic remains committed to its plan for Belfast.

The company’s chief executive, Brenda Chandler, said: “This pause will allow the courts to fully adjudicate the issues raised by project opponents without allowing the delay caused by the endless litigation to run the clock on the permits.

“Nordic remains committed to providing a locally grown, sustainably produced source of healthy protein in this community.”

Tenacious opposition

Nordic first announced plans for a 33,000-tonnes-per-year recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon farm in Belfast in 2018 but has been opposed every step of the way by the group Upstream Watch.

In February, Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that intertidal land required for the laying of inlet and outlet pipes between the farm site and the sea belongs to homeowners who have sided with Upstream Watch, rather than others who had sold Nordic their home for the pipe access.

Nordic, which has the support of the City of Belfast, is now relying on a favourable result in an outstanding court case challenging the legality of a compulsory purchase of the intertidal land by the City.

As well as seeking to build in Maine, Nordic is pursuing permission for another 33,000-tonne RAS salmon farm on the Samoa Peninsula, in Humboldt, northern California. As in Belfast, Nordic has the support of the local authority.

Each farm is expected to cost between $500 million-$600 million.