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Maine Supreme Court hears arguments over long-running intertidal dispute for planned salmon farm

Courtesy Nordic Aquafarms
via Bangor Daily News
Artist rendering of the planned land-based salmon farm in Belfast.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a long-running dispute over the intertidal property needed for a planned land-based salmon farm in Belfast.

The question of who owns the disputed mudflat is an important one, because it's where Nordic Aquafarms wants to lay the pipelines for its planned seawater intake and discharge system.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, which include conservation groups, as well as land owners Jeffrey Mabee and Judith Grace, argued that a 1946 deed shows that they are clear owners of the intertidal zone. Mabee and Grace conveyed a conservation easement over the disputed property back in 2019 that prevented commercial or industrial development.

But an attorney for Nordic says that the terms of that 1946 deed show that Mabee and Grace don't have ownership rights over the disputed zone. Richard and Jane Eckrote have said the mudflats near their house belong to them. The city of Belfast has taken steps to convey the property to Nordic.

Nordic has secured all of the permits needed to build the salmon farm but can't proceed until the intertidal property dispute is resolved.

The justices gave no anticipated timeline for their decision.