November 4, 2018
November 4, 2018
As planned, we formally filed an application for a discharge permit with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on October 19. The Maine Pollution Discharge Elimination System (MEPDES) wastewater discharge permit is the first of several local, state and federal permits we must obtain for our Belfast project.
As we noted previously, key components of the discharge are either below existing background levels in the bay, or reach background levels or lower within about 10 meters from the discharge pipe. Our discharge poses no harm to the bay, and we are proud to be setting a new environmental standard for the fish farming industry.
With the discharge permit application filed, we are continuing to work diligently on other important filings, such as Site Location of Development Act (SLODA) application and the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) application. We hope to submit these two important permit applications right after the start of the new year.
After reviewing the content of our discharge application, Gulf of Maine Research Institute President & CEO Don Perkins submitted a letter to Maine DEP in which he said: “Nordic Aquafarms has developed a thoughtfully engineered RAS production facility,” and that we are drawing on “Norwegian know-how and technology, Maine-based environmental engineering expertise, and Maine-based construction expertise…”
Speaking specifically to the discharge, he said: “The nutrient and temperature impact of facility discharge, as modeled, will have negligible impact when considered in the context of the tidal current and water volume characteristics of West Penobscot Bay and Belfast Bay,” adding that “Nordic has developed a competent strategy to collect baseline ecosystem information against which to monitor impact from operations as they grow and evolve.”
GMRI is an independent, non-profit marine research organization whose mission is to pioneer
collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges. The highly-respected organization takes an interdisciplinary, ecosystem approach to understand and address challenges and opportunities related to marine stewardship and coastal community economic development.
In closing his letter to the DEP, Perkins said of Nordic Aquafarms: “we believe they offer Maine an extraordinary opportunity of a significant capital investment and a leadership role in the evolution of a responsible 21st century seafood economy.”
The GMRI letter, which was also sent to Belfast city officials, can be read here.
We are grateful to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine’s first Congressional District for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with us last Friday.
Pictured: Erik Heim, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and Marianne Naess
Rep. Pingree’s district includes much of mid-coast Maine, and she is a leader in Congress on food and agricultural issues and food system reform. We were pleased to have the opportunity to show her our plans and talk about what the Belfast project means for Maine and the United States.
From day one we have been open and transparent, holding public information meetings, putting out this regular newsletter, meeting with citizens and stakeholder groups, and opening a storefront office in downtown Belfast. Still, there has been a lot of misinformation put out about our project over the last few months, all designed to create fear in the community.
We believe that the vast majority of Belfast residents support what we are trying to do and understand how our world-class land-based salmon farm will benefit the entire community. So, we decided it was time to respond to the fears that the minority are trying to incite by taking out an ad in The Republican Journal to set the record straight. Click the image, or see our ad in this week’s paper online here.
A national special interest group that our opponents enlisted to help to fund the lawsuit against the City of Belfast recently circulated a “report” on fish food to the media in Maine. However, Dr. Ian Bricknell, a professor of aquaculture biology and founding director of the University of Maine’s Aquaculture Research Institute, quickly dismissed the study, telling the Bangor Daily News that it “was dubious at best and should really be disregarded.”
In our response, we noted that both the source and contributing author of this information are highly biased with an activist agenda, and in fact, the material submitted to the Bangor Daily News would never make it through a professional peer review.
In addition, many of claims made in the report are outdated and made against net-pen salmon production, not land-based farming. Activists are mixing the two together. Land-based farming solves many of the historical challenges associated with net pens, including high discharge, fish escapes, sea lice, threat to wild salmon, use of the public´s open ocean areas and more. We have no agenda against net-pen farming, but we do emphasize the many benefits of our land-based approach.
We have consistently stated that new and exciting developments are happening in the feed industry, so choosing our feed two years before production starts makes no sense given these developments.
This article from Salmon Business reinforces what we have been saying repeatedly in Maine: insect protein – a highly natural and highly efficient protein – is making its way into the feed industry. Insect production is extremely resource efficient and a natural diet for wild salmon. This is only one of many exciting developments in the feed industry.
These innovations are driven by a growing demand for fish feed internationally, and thus a need among feed producers to source increasingly more sustainable feed ingredients. We will be part of that effort, given our commitment to be an environmentally responsible and sustainable operation.
Some have tried to raise fears about the possibility of disease at our Belfast fish farm by erroneously reporting that there have been outbreaks of disease at our facilities in Denmark. There have been none, as the letter below from an independent veterinarian makes very clear. Naturally occurring mortalities in the early hatching process is common in marine hatcheries and is a very different story than disease outbreaks.
Our state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) in Maine will use the latest bio-security measures to greatly reduce disease risk. This will treat water coming in and out of the facility for bacteria, pathogens and parasites. Furthermore, as a land-based operation we do not need medication or chemicals to treat for sea lice.
With the submission of our discharge permit, and others soon to follow, we are pleased to announce a new series of public information meetings to answer questions and address any concerns that people may have.
The next round of meetings is tentatively scheduled for the dates below. We will provide confirmation and more information about times and locations as these dates get closer.
According to plan, Nordic Aquafarm’s facility in Norway is now going into final testing before the insert of smolt. The photo below was taken before first water testing of tanks.
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