Two Nordic Aquafarms leases rescinded for proposed land-based fish farm in Belfast
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands has rescinded two leases Nordic Aquafarms needs in order to lay pipes for its proposed land-based aquaculture farm in Belfast.
The decision comes after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in February ruled that project opponents Jeffrey Maybee and Judith Grace own the intertidal flats Nordic needs, and a conservation easement on the property is enforceable. Since the ownership case was decided after the leases were granted, the court remanded the case to state regulatory agencies.
Andy Stevenson, spokesman for opponent Friends of Harriet L. Hartley Conservation Area, says the Board of Environmental Protection must re-examine its permit process.
"Look at the information and legal decision that's been made about whether or Nordic had sufficient title, right, and interest to make a valid application for its submerged lands lease. We would hope that the BEP would rescind the permits that it issued in 2020," Stevenson said.
Nordic needs a submerged lands lease from the Bureau of Parks and Lands for an effluent discharge permit from the Department of Environmental Protection to proceed with the project. The Board of Environmental Protection has yet to consider the remand order from the Law Court.
Several legal challenges still remain for Nordic Aquafarms. One is the City of Belfast eminent domain seizure of land for Nordic. Another involves a second conservation easement on the Nordic property. A third involves opponent Upstream Watch's challenge of permits issued to Nordic by the City of Belfast.
Nordic spokesperson Jacki Cassida says the company is likely to reapply for the leases from the Bureau of Parks and Lands when the legal issues are resolved, and "the pause on our project and patient stance remains unchanged as legal proceedings continue."