I understand that there are different views and ideologies about the proposed salmon farm in Belfast. I understand that nearby residents have legitimate reasons to ask questions and raise potential concerns.

Nordic Aquafarms has engaged in many conversations regarding these concerns at all levels of government and with the public in Maine. Nordic Aquafarms has felt the genuine warmth of Maine hospitality and heated dispute over the facts. We welcome both.

Throughout, our message remains the same: Economic development doesn't need to be at odds with responsible environmental stewardship. We came to Maine — to Belfast — to build a facility that we hope and expect will pave the way forward for aquaculture in Maine.

I remain committed to open dialogue with those who have an honest intent. I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Norway. I was born in Massachusetts. Both my wife and I were educated in the U.S. We both founded our careers on integrity. I am proud of the company I founded. I look forward to a time when this company will provide challenging and meaningful jobs to Mainers. I look forward to setting new environmental standards in aquaculture here in Maine.

We did not expect an easy road. But we are surprised by the personal and corrosive nature of the attacks on the project. This winter we fought off bills in Augusta aimed at the company by a representative who did not want to meet with us. We looked forward to meeting with the Maine Lobstering Union on two separate occasions. Both times, those meetings were cancelled.

How can honest concerns be addressed and resolved without dialogue?

The latest round of accusations related to the intertidal land ownership in Belfast. Again, Nordic Aquafarms was accused of lying, fraud and perjury. The Free Press authored an article restating these accusations, although its staff knew Nordic Aquafarms’ response to the Bureau of Parks and Lands would be filed later that day. Yet, they chose to print.

According to Mr. Mabee’s letter to the editor published in that same paper (and in The Republican Journal) on the same day, he was convinced by “counsel for Upstream Watch” to grant Upstream Watch a conservation easement over land he hadn’t thought he’d owned for the past 25 years.

We have no indication now, or from any of our experts, that Mr. Mabee and/or Ms. Grace own the intertidal in front of the Eckrotes’ property. No reasonable company would invest in a project without a solid expectation that its rights were legally sufficient. Despite the numerous allegations to the contrary, Nordic Aquafarms is a reasonable business owner.

Beyond this, the impacts of this pipe have been greatly exaggerated. The construction will be in compliance with all required approvals and the pipes will be buried in the intertidal such that they will not be visible. The residual discharge has been vetted by a number of Maine´s leading environmental organizations. Statements about local mercury issues have not been backed up by any local data from opponents. On the contrary, our samples refute these claims. The opposition’s unsubstantiated media claims regarding contamination in Belfast Bay are hurtful to the local seafood industry.

Nordic Aquafarms has submitted its response to the Bureau of Parks and Lands regarding the Submerged Land Lease and its applications to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Belfast will be filed soon. The project will be subject to robust review at the local, state and federal levels.

While I will continue to defend our company, and employees, from attacks as necessary, my hope is that there can be a different — more civil — way forward.

 

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