I’m writing in regards to the event that happened at the Belfast Library labeled “Connecting Our Struggles: Corporations or Community?” on Wednesday, May 29. First and foremost, I want to make it very clear that the group hosting this event is a small group that in NO way represents the majority of the citizens of Belfast. Thankfully, Belfast as a whole won’t give them or this event much thought.
This group has made it their absolute mission, however misguided, to be as big of a thorn as they can to Nordic Aquafarms. They’ve had no reservations on making that known. Honestly, it’s possible this is an organized group of one. Maybe even 10 or 11. Even so, using this kind of forum to have a “conversation” about the downsides of big corporations (there were two others included in the debate) seemed like a guise to rally more protest against Nordic Aquafarms. The slander and misinformation they and others that oppose the project have been spreading started out to be merely annoying.
Now, however, I am greatly concerned that the tactics being used are setting a precedent that will deter other good businesses from coming here to Maine. When we are seeing our younger generations going elsewhere for work, we cannot afford to allow this kind of behavior by giving it credence.
Another group and individual protestors as well, are using pre-planned strategies like establishing so-called organizations on social media platforms with the single intent of discrediting Nordic Aquafarms.
They post information that LOOKS like it has relevance, but in fact does not. They accuse NA of not supplying accurate information, when in fact, they do.
With undisputable scientific data behind it! NA has always had an open-door policy. (Go to their office in downtown Belfast and say hello- they are nice people.) The opposition has painted a picture of themselves as juveniles, doing things like defacing the Nordic Aquafarms logo and labeling the company as “parasites” as they did in their event header for their library discussion.
They coerced residents into giving them a “conservation” easement without ensuring those residents obtain unbiased counsel. They’ve drawn in conservation groups to support their cause, and it is quite likely these groups were greatly misled. As a side note, the local Maine chapter of the Sierra Club does NOT speak on behalf of the national Sierra Club. In fact, the Sierra Club actually supports and endorses the practices that Nordic Aquafarms uses in its responsible, innovative, and sustainable methods.
It is completely beyond me (and many other like-minded individuals) why there is a vendetta against this company.
At this point, it feels like their cutting their own noses off to spite their faces, and it is sad to watch. I am also concerned that writers on certain news staff are publishing biased pieces in favor of the opposition, and stoking its fires. That is what this has become an out of control wildfire. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth that folks outside of Belfast could be generalizing some opinions about the oppositional group OR that citizens are having to “protest the protestors”. Passion is definitely not lacking, I guess you could say.
It leaves a bad taste that a lawsuit against the city will be paid by Belfast’s taxpayers. It is repugnant that opposers have taken to personally attacking employees of Nordic Aquafarms.
Someone hiding behind their social media group name asked me what my family stands to gain with Nordic Aquafarms being our neighbor and using part of our land. It was undeniably rude and none of anyone’s business. The assumption that this was the only reason Nordic Aquafarms has my family’s support was predictably short-sighted.
A while ago, a meeting at the Camden Public Library was planned to discuss “non-violent” strategies for protesting against Nordic Aquafarms. Are those strategies what we’re seeing now?
If you are one of those who are opposing the Nordic Aquafarms project, I am inviting you to change your thinking and truly embrace that it is OK to do so. We are conditioned to believe we have to stand by our principles, and in many cases we should. But on this one, I invite you to be strong enough to say, hey, maybe I’m flexible. There is more honor in that. I invite you to be a part of a progression that is good.
I have done my own research and I believe in this company and their mission. I believe in their innovation and their practices, and they will raise the bar for environmental responsibility for other land-based aquafarms around the country. We need them to be here, to do that. Maine needs to continue paving the way as an aquaculture-strong state by embracing a model for sustainable food sourcing with healthy disease-free/parasite-free, non-GMO methods and an environmentally responsible/green presence.
Nordic Aquafarms embodies that model and I am proud of Belfast for welcoming this project and its continued support.
Jacqueline Cassida lives in Belfast.