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Nordic thanks supporters after planners back California RAS project

An illustration of how the Humboldt salmon RAS facility may look. Image: Nordic Aquafarms.
An illustration of how the Humboldt salmon RAS facility may look. Image: Nordic Aquafarms.

Nordic Aquafarms Inc, which plans to build a 33,000-tonne on-land salmon farm in Humboldt, northern California, has thanked its partners, supporters, and the community after planners voted unanimously to certify the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The certification by the Humboldt County Planning Commission was a requirement under the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) and will help Nordic Aquafarms finalise other permits, the company said in a press release.

In addition to the EIR certification, the commission also approved the coastal development permit for terrestrial development.

Bernt Olav Røttingsnes: “There are more steps to take, but this will serve as a strong basis for the permits to come.” Photo: Kyst.no.
Bernt Olav Røttingsnes: “There are more steps to take, but this will serve as a strong basis for the permits to come.” Photo: Kyst.no.

More steps

“We congratulate our US team in reaching this important milestone for our California project,” said Bernt Olav Røttingsnes, chairman of Nordic’s Norwegian parent company Nordic Aquafarms Group. “There are more steps to take, but this will serve as a strong basis for the permits to come.”

Brenda Chandler, who was appointed interim chief executive of Nordic’s US operation after the recent departure of former CEO Erik Heim, said the company appreciated the opportunity it had to engage with environmental groups and all interested parties during this first step in Humboldt.

Last night’s decision by the Planning Commission followed a meeting a week earlier where stakeholders and members of the public had their say for or against the project.

These included Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District executive director Larry Oetker, who described Nordic’s plans as an ideal fit for the coastal dependent former mill property owned by the Harbor District.

Members of the Operating Engineers Local 3 union showed up to the meeting in force to advocate for the project, and Rafael Cuevas-Uribe, a fisheries biology professor and aquaculture expert at Cal Poly Humboldt, said he’d examined the plans for the project and was impressed by its state-of-the-art technology.

The support from those that took the time to come and speak at the public hearing, as well as send letters of support is greatly appreciated.

Nordic Aquafarms Inc interim CEO Brenda Chandler
Brenda Chandler:
Brenda Chandler: "We would especially like to thank our partners, supporters, and the community". Photo: Nordic Aquafarms.

“We would especially like to thank our partners, supporters, and the community for their collaborative efforts to help us make this the best project for Humboldt County,” said Chandler, who is also the company’s chief financial officer.

“The support from those that took the time to come and speak at the public hearing, as well as send letters of support is greatly appreciated. It is a reminder of how deeply meaningful our presence in the community will be.”

With the EIR certified, Nordic will now go before the California Coastal Commission and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for its next steps in the permitting process.

Moving foward in Maine

Nordic also plans a 33,000-tonne on-land salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, and has been awarded all state, local, and federal permits for the project on the 56-acre site.

The company said it is currently engaged in project planning with detailed design and pursuit of building permits upcoming.

Nordic Aquafarms Group currently operates a yellowtail kingfish RAS facility in Denmark, and a RAS facility in Fredrikstad, south of Oslo in Norway. Nordic has produced harvest-sized salmon in the facility but has chosen to switch to kingfish, which fetch a better price.