Change in law could give authorities more powers to close land-based aquaculture facilities

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LD 620 would broaden the authority of the commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to revoke or refuse to grant a license to land-based aquaculture facilities.

An act regarding the licensing of land-based aquaculture facilities in Maine, USA, is being given until Tuesday for final testimony.

Currently, there are two large scale indoor salmon farms being planned in the state, including the USD 400 million Nordic Aquafarms site in Belfast and the USD 200 million Whole Oceans site in Bucksport.

The act gives the commissioner the power to refuse or revoke a license for one facility if it alone, or in combination with another land-based aquaculture facility, poses an unreasonable risk to a body of water.

BangorDailyNews argued in an editorial that changes to legislation LD 620 could in essence “allow one facility to be denied a license for the actions of another.”

Though proponents of the bill say that it helps to maintain the health of Maine’s waterways and bio-region.

In full, the bill “amends the law allowing the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to refuse to issue a land-based aquaculture license, or revoke an existing license, when the aquaculture activity presents an unreasonable risk to indigenous marine or freshwater life or its environment and specifies that the activity is either alone in the use of a body of water in combination with the aquaculture activity of any other land-based aquaculture operations using the same body of water.”

In an editorial on the same site, Nordic Aquafarms North America director of operations Marianne Naess wrote that: “Neither RAS technology nor our water treatment technology are experimental technologies, as has been stated by some people in Maine. Rather, our in-house engineers have designed land-based facilities for more than 20 years and our production managers are also some of the most experienced with RAS technology in the world.”