Nordic Aquafarms, which has plans to build a large land-based salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, U.S.A., has won a “complete and total victory” in a court case brought against the company by project opponents.
Nordic Aquafarms has been embroiled in a court battle over the ownership of intertidal land adjacent to property the company purchased rights to in order to route inflow and outflow pipes essential to the operations of the company’s proposed recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility.
The ownership saga began in 2019 with opponents filing a lawsuit claiming that the intertidal land adjacent to “Lot 36,” owned by Janet and Richard Eckrote – land on which Nordic Aquafarms purchased rights to run underground pipes – was actually the property of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Jeffrey R. Mabee and Judith B. Grace. However, after review, Maine Superior Court Justice Robert Murray found, in a 48-page ruling covering multiple facets of the lawsuit, that the plaintiffs have no right, title, or interest to the land in question, effectively clearing Nordic to begin installing its needed pipes.
“We are very pleased with both the win on every property count and with the court’s unassailable reasoning in this extremely clear decision,” Nordic Aquafarms President Erik Heim said in a release. “Nordic Aquafarms obtained every permit for the Maine project and, with this ruling, can proceed to final Maine project planning.”
Nordic Aquafarms obtained the last permit it needed in August, and has been awaiting the outcome of multiple court battles. In addition to the property battle, the company also has to resolve litigation against the city of Belfast regarding its plans to use eminent domain to end the land dispute.
“Project opponents’ lawsuits and attempted land grab show their willingness to do anything, including suing their neighbors and consistently spreading false claims and misrepresentations, in their attempt to stop the project,” Nordic Aquafarms Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations Marianne Naess said in a company statement. “So far, their attempts failed to do anything but delay project benefits to Maine. Nordic is in this for the long haul. Belfast is a location worth fighting for. Nordic looks forward to moving into the next phase of engineering and project planning.”
The project has been the subject of a polarized debate in Belfast, but despite outspoken opposition from some residents, several Belfast City Council members who voted to support the project are running unopposed in the current election cycle.
Image courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms