An activist from Upstream Watch recently published a misleading opinion piece in the Press Herald attacking Nordic Aquafarms (“Regulators should question large-scale aquaculture,” March 29). The arguments are faulty from beginning to end, and seek to discredit an important economic development project for Belfast.

First of all, who is Upstream Watch? It is a local group of activists in Belfast who has had more than a fair opportunity to argue against the now permitted land-based salmon project in Belfast. They lost every argument in the state and local permitting processes after promoting its purported scientific perspectives. The group continues to drain the city of Belfast of resources in its opposition efforts; resources that otherwise could have benefitted the residents of Belfast who mostly support our planned land-based fish farm.

And who is Nordic Aquafarms? We are progressive seafood company with three land-based fish farms already in operation. We operate some of the largest active production facilities internationally in the land-based fish farming segment. This places Nordic Aquafarms as one of the top land-based salmon companies today, with much more experience than most.

Nordic´s track record speaks for itself – we produce products that are recognized as high quality and we have never had any major negative events in our farms. Exceptional quality focus and attention to fish welfare are at the core of the operations. The plans for a farm in Belfast were vetted for more than two years in permitting in Maine, and were approved.

Upstream Watch has promoted zero discharge and other utopian ideas for land-based aquaculture that don´t exist at scale. Pursuing such ideas at scale would greatly increase risks in operations and endanger the welfare of the fish. It would also increase the risk of off-flavor in the fish, and it would increase power use. The reference information Upstream Watch uses simply does not add up in relation to what experienced companies are doing or planning to do at scale. If you take a look at the other aquaculture farms proposed in Maine, none of those are close to such utopian claims either. Upstream Watch has cherry-picked ideas and questionable stories that fit their heavily biased activist agenda. They have no practical experience with land-based fish farming.

Nordic´s technology has an excellent track record. Nordic is unique in the industry with a full-fledged internal design division and unique technology patents. This technology and the team have delivered land-based fish farms internationally for decades before being acquired and further developed by Nordic. Our design team are pioneers in the industry and the evolving technology has a reputation as “best in class” among major international aquaculture companies such as Grieg Seafood and MOWI who both use this technology.

Comparing Nordic´s project in Belfast to start-ups like West Coast Salmon who have zero farms in operation is grossly misleading. Start-ups in this segment make all kinds of claims before the hard reality hits. While their vendor has built a number of farms, the vendor has yet to validate grow-out salmon farms at the scale Nordic operates today, and far from the scale it is hoping to pursue in the US. For another vendor to have strong opinions about a project they don´t know is unprofessional, and any claims made are questionable when the messenger here is a known opponent.

Nordic has no ambition to build the cheapest farms around because we invest in biosecurity, safe practices, and quality. Cutting costs in the wrong places is not a recipe for success as we have seen examples of in some farms. Many projects see solid cost overruns based on overoptimistic vendor estimates. Nordic doesn’t use low-cost vendors with rosy promises.

The permitting agencies in Maine did an extensive job vetting Nordic´s applications and listening to all sides before approving this development. Nordic will create many jobs and responsible economic development in Maine with cutting edge technologies. We remain thankful for all the great support we have in Maine and Belfast.

— Special to the Press Herald


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