Editor's note: The following letter is a response to a letter published in the Sept. 5, 2019, issue of The Republican Journal.

Nordic has not misled Legislature or DEP about fish escape

There have been repeated statements published regarding Nordic Aquafarms lying to and misleading a state of Maine Legislative Committee and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection regarding fish escape from land-based aquaculture facilities. As we have stated publicly before, depending on the facility and location it is possible for fish to escape from land-based facilities. There have been only a few examples of such escapes over the years, though.

Nordic Aquafarms has designed an escape-proof facility in Belfast, as shown on several occasions in media and at public information meetings. The facility is also placed several hundred feet away from any body of water.

At the legislative hearing on Feb. 28 for LD 620, at 1.35:16, Sen. Black asked me if it was possible for any fish to escape our proposed Belfast facility. My answer was a clear NO. The link to the hearing and my answer is below:

Legislature.maine.gov/audio/#214?event=77490&startDate=2019.02.28T13:00.00-05.00.

Marianne Naess

Nordic Aquafarms Inc.


Editor's note: The following letter, received Sept. 6, is a response to Marianne Naess' letter above.

We simply do not know

The Sept. 5 online letter by Marianne Naess regarding fish escapes from land-based fish farms in general, and Nordic Aquafarms' proposed Belfast fish farm in particular, is misleading. In her letter, Naess says, "Nordic Aquafarms has designed an escape-proof facility in Belfast, as shown on several occasions in media and at public information meetings. The facility is also placed several hundred feet away from any body of water."  But the "public meetings" Naess cites were all sponsored by Nordic Aquafarms, hardly an objective party; and favorable media coverage of Nordic has largely been regurgitation of Nordic's press releases. As for Nordic's facility being placed "several hundred feet from any body of water," fish don't escape from land-based industrial fish farms by jumping out of tanks and walking, driving or hitchhiking to open water. They escape through tears in filters for discharge pipes.

We simply do not know whether fish would be able to escape from Nordic's big and highly experimental Belfast fish farm. We do know that Nordic Aquafarms has no experience running an industrial fish farm anywhere near the size of what it proposes for Belfast.  We know that filters tear. We know that large numbers of fish have escaped from other land-based industrial fish farms. And we have no reason to believe that Nordic's proposed Belfast factory would be any different. Thus it was at a minimum misleading for Naess to tell the legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry that it is not possible for fish to escape in discharge from industrial land-based fish farms such as what Nordic proposes for Belfast.

Lawrence Reichard

East Orland