Do We Really Want Giant Salmon Factories To Be Our Legacy?

If a Norway-based industrial fish farm company gets its way, Belfast, Maine, will soon be home to a 40-acre, land-based salmon factory. It’s a $450- to $550 million project that has city officials salivating to give the go-ahead and your help is needed to stop it!

In fact, the Belfast City Council in April proposed a motion to amend city ordinances so that Nordic Aquafarms’ (NAF) salmon factory — the magnitude of which actually qualifies as a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) — can build its structure at a height lower than current codes specify. They also changed city zoning laws to allow up to 70 percent of over 40 acres of natural landscape to become impermeable (hard paving and building).

If this project gets the council’s blessing, that means:

  • The fish farm will be the world’s largest land-based industrial salmon farm
  • It will be extracting 1,200 gallons of well water per minute, or 1.7 million gallons a day, to run it — almost 2 percent of Maine’s entire water consumption
  • Even with filtering systems, the plant will still discharge 1,600 pounds of nitrogen, 6 to 8 pounds of phosphorous and 380 pounds of suspended solids EVERY DAY into nearby Belfast Bay

In its promotional material NAF says this will not have any adverse environmental impacts — but with an anticipated 66 million pounds of fish per year, how can they say that all the feces from all those fish will not impact the environment? Salmon require a constant flow and renewal of the water in the tanks, which will be up to 50 percent seawater. The fact is the nitrogen and phosphorous produced by all that fish feces can cause algae blooms and oxygen deprivation for all marine life — think: Maine lobster — and NAF has offered no guarantee that this can’t or won’t happen.

The truth is salmon farming is a disaster both for the environment and human health, and tests show that farmed salmon not only is about five times more toxic than any other food tested, but that mice fed farmed salmon developed obesity and diabetes!

Also noteworthy is that this proposed facility is 16 times larger than NAF’s Norwegian facility — which isn’t operating at full capacity yet. Therefore, NAF has no studies to offer as to whether such a huge operation is even safe. On top of that, NAF has no experience with the Atlantic salmon it plans to farm.

When you consider that land-based fish farms have already been shown to produce significant ecological changes downstream from wherever they are, reducing biodiversity and killing off pollution-sensitive species, I can only ask: Is this really what the city’s residents want? And, as a nation, do we REALLY want the world’s largest salmon CAFO to be our legacy?

Another question that needs answering is why did this company choose to incorporate in the state of Delaware when the business is planned for Maine? Could it possibly be because Delaware shields corporations from liability more than other states — and right along that line, does this mean NAF is anticipating liability problems?

If you agree that allowing this operation to open would be a travesty waiting to happen, please join with me in protesting this, by signing up here to get involved.

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