Nordic Aquafarms’ proposed facility in California is revealing. Samoa Peninsula, near Eureka, looks out at Japan, thousands of miles away. Nordic Aquafarms’ proposal in Belfast is far into one of the most significant and historically productive estuary systems on the Eastern Seaboard. Deep ocean currents are over 20 miles away.

Might Nordic have learned something from trying to locate their outflow into the much-enjoyed Belfast Bay? Their California site is an old paper mill, not a beloved forest. The outflow pipe is already in place, not illegally crossing citizens’ littoral zones.

Nordic hasn’t learned transparency, however. The Humboldt Baykeeper organization said the lease agreement hadn’t been made public prior to a hearing. Nordic claims to have begun discussions with “local authorities and stakeholder groups” but not the public. This is the playbook of big-box stores and large, unpopular, polluting industries. Nordic is disaster capitalism – profiting from the collapse of marine ecology by further degrading it, then cornering the market with caged fish that never see the light of day.

What is amazing, given the intense opposition at every public hearing, they continue on like nothing happened. If we had a functioning democracy, they would be long gone. But Nordic influences not only local zoning and media, but also state legislation aimed at protecting our ecosystems.

Maine needs the protections of L.D. 620, “An Act Regarding Licensing of Land-based Aquaculture,” to regulate these experimental fish factories.  Also: L.D. 1241, “An Act To Improve Survival Rates of Salmon …”; L.D. 197, “An Act To Convene a Working Group To Authorize a Public Trust for Maine’s Groundwater …”; and L.D. 199, “An Act To Create the Water Resources Planning Committee.” These efforts, not massive monocultures, are what Maine needs to recover our marine ecosystem and local economy.

Jim Merkel