BELFAST- Public comment on a potential fish farm in Belfast was supposed to wrap up last week, but that wasn’t the case.
An overwhelming number of people turned out to give public comment about Nordic Aquafarms‘ proposal for a fish farm in Belfast at the January 8th planning board meeting.
As a result, they continued the public hearing at the January 15th meeting.
“All together we’ve probably received 72 written comments, so there’s been quite a bit of interest expressed in this hearing and people putting their concerns to the record,” said Wayne Marshall, the director of code and planning for the City of Belfast.
People in favor of and opposed to the fish farm were present at the meetings.
“We need to have other guarantees about the viability of the design, the wisdom of the construction and the longevity of the operation of such a facility,” said one person at the meeting who was opposed to the facility.
“We don’t have fish in the sea like we used to. We don’t have jobs here like we used to. It’s time for Belfast to start catching up and facing the reality,” said another in favor of the fish farm.
The proposed facility would produce 33,000 metric tons of salmon per year.
“That’s enough for several large markets in the northeast and will replace all the air-freighted salmon from Europe, which currently has a huge carbon footprint,” said Edward Cotter, a senior vice president for Nordic Aquafarms. “We can grow it here and replace that in the market with a more sustainable product.”
By the end of the process, Belfast’s planning board will be deciding on five different permits.
Nordic Aquafarms is also in the process of obtaining permits from the Department of Environmental Protection.
“The important thing is we submitted an application, or several applications, to both the city and state that clearly define the project,” Cotter continued. “There’s been a lot of talk from people outside the project about elements they don’t understand or don’t like, but it’s really important to look at the facts.”
The next planning board meeting will be on January 22nd.