I am a long-time resident of Belfast and Waldo County and am not in support of the zoning changes needed for the Nordic Aquaculture Salmon Farm at the Little River site on Route 1. This project proposal is being moved and rushed along too fast to be able to have accurate, fully fleshed out details, on a project so large and which will have such a huge, long-term impact on our environment and our community.

The Nordic Aquafarms project impact to our local environment will be considerable. We need more information on a range of topics, such as the impact on local hydrology and groundwater. The impact of 70-percent impervious surface of this 40-acre salmon farm that will be built so close to the Little River and the local watershed. The impact of increased traffic on Route 1, given the considerable number of tractor trailer trucks each day bringing inputs and outputs like food, the processed fish and their waste. 

What about the impact of the percent of un-removed nutrients that will be dumped into the bay? How much will that actually be in terms of weight/volume and what will actually be in that effluent? Where will the fish meal/feed come from, and how and where is it produced? There is no large-scale organic fish meal being produced right now. Most of it is currently coming from China with sketchy regulations and production practices. 

Land-based fish farming on this scale is still a very new technology and doesn’t have a proven track record. The scale of this project is so totally over the top in terms of size and scale (five times larger than anything this company has done so far), not just in general but for our small community. What happens to the facility if the company goes out of business or decides to leave town? Once this is built, the changes are irreversible.

I do not believe the Nordic Aquafarms project represents sustainable development for our town, bio-region, state or the planet for that matter. It will be a huge experiment, and Belfast is the guinea pig in this plan. Rather, this is a super-sized industrial factory farm model with the profits going to a huge corporation in Norway.

Local zoning amendments and changes are already underway in Belfast to allow this mega-project to move forward. April 17 is the next regular City Council meeting, 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers. This meeting will include the formal Second Reading and public hearing on all proposed zoning changes to local ordinances and for changes to the Future Land Use Plan (part of the City Comprehensive Plan). These zoning changes will be reviewed at this meeting and likely accepted to allow Nordic Aquafarms to submit the permit applications to develop this land-based salmon farm, between Route 1 and the Little River Reservoir and the Perkins Road. 

Public input is encouraged. You can voice your comments about the proposed zoning changes during the public comment period at the April 17 City Council meeting or by submitting your comments to Wayne Marshall, Director, Code and Planning, 338-1417, extension 125, or wmarshall@cityofbelfast.org. You may also like Local Citizens for SMART Growth: Salmon Farm, on Facebook.

Wendy Watson, Belfast