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Green light due soon for California salmon RAS, says Nordic boss

Nordic staff at the site on the Samoa Peninsula, Humboldt County, California. Photo: Erik Heim / LinkedIn.
Nordic staff at the site on the Samoa Peninsula, Humboldt County, California. Photo: Erik Heim / LinkedIn.

Nordic Aquafarms, which is planning 30,000-tonne on-land salmon farms on the east and west coasts of the United States, is close to getting permission for its site on the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County, northern California, chief executive Erik Heim said last night.

“Three years of planning and hard work is close to a big milestone in California - permits for long-term expansion of Nordic Aquafarms’ RAS plans on the US West Coast,” Heim said in a post on social media site LinkedIn.

“This week our senior engineering staff are on site in Humboldt with leadership as we are wrapping up this phase. Permitting in California is not a walk in the park, but rewarding when you get there.”

Nordic began applying for permits for the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in August 2020.

The company already has permission to build a RAS facility on the outskirts of Belfast, Maine but progress has been delayed by opponents of the project who contested Nordic’s ownership of land where it plans to bury inflow and outflow pipes that will connect the plant to the sea. A judge ruled against the opponents in October last year.

Erik Heim: US strategy remains unchanged.
Erik Heim: US strategy remains unchanged.

Sticking with salmon

One of Nordic’s sister companies, Fredrikstad Seafood, which produces around 1,200 to 1,500 tonnes of salmon annually in a RAS facility in Norway, is considering switching from salmon production to yellowtail kingfish, which fetches a higher price, but Heim has said that Nordic has no plans to change tack in the US, where fish will be grown on a much larger scale.

“The kingfish market is limited, but with attractive pricing - thus medium scale kingfish production will be more profitable than salmon if you have the know-how,” Heim said on LinkedIn.

“Our larger-scale strategy for the US market remains unchanged - salmon is the best choice when close to US consumers, the target is large-scale production, and there is an established market to absorb larger volumes. Nordic Aquafarms produces both species and thus has the know-how to tailor the best strategy for each.”

An illustration of how the proposed California RAS facility. Image: Nordic Aquafarms Inc.
An illustration of how the proposed California RAS facility. Image: Nordic Aquafarms Inc.