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Environment and Outdoors

Water Ceremony Held Near Site Of Proposed Aquaculture Farm Discharge Pipe In Penobscot Bay

Fred Bever
Maine Public
Kathy Paul leads a welcome song before a ceremony in Belfast to honor Penobscot Bay. She was joined by more than 50 area residents, many opposed to a land-based salmon farm, Nordic Aquafarms, that would discharge effluent to the bay.

About 50 people gathered on the shorefront of Belfast on Friday to join a Penobscot Nation elder's ceremony honoring Penobscot Bay. The event aimed to highlight opposition to a land-based salmon farm that would discharge effluent into the bay.

Penobscot Nation elder Kathy Paul and friends sang a song of welcome for her ancestors and for the gathering, maybe 100 yards from where Nordic Aquafarms wants to place a pipe to carry effluent to the bay.

State and federal environmental regulators have approved the project, but a vocal contingent of local opponents is fighting on, with the focus now on a court battle over ownership of the intertidal area where the outflow pipe would be located.

Paul, representing herself, says she wanted to support Belfast citizens who had backed the Penobscots in their battle over water rights in the Penobscot River.

"We're going to be doing more ceremonies for the water, we're going to let people know how important our water is. It's important to all of us — sustainability. And the salmon they want to put in, it's going to ruin everything here," she says.

Last week Belfast's city council voted unanimously to invoke eminent domain, take over the disputed intertidal area and allow Nordic to use it. Mayor Eric Sanders says after four years of conflict, it's time to move on.

This week, opponents filed suit against the city and asked the court for a temporary stay to halt the action.