An illustration of Nordic Aquafarms' proposed RAS facility in Belfast, Maine. Image: Nordic Aquafarms.

Maine wins ‘race’ for first Nordic Aquafarms salmon RAS in US

Nordic Aquafarms, which plans two 33,000-tonne on-land salmon farms in Maine and California, has chosen to give priority to its East Coast site.

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“Our RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) projects in Maine and California have been in a permitting race on a first come-first build basis,” the Norwegian-owned company said in a social media post.

“We are happy to announce that Maine will go first, while California in the future will benefit from the development work in Maine. Final engineering is starting up in Maine as we head into summer. More details and exciting news coming up as we unleash the full extent of what we have worked on in the past 3 years.”

Second in line: Nordic Aquafarms' proposed RAS facility in California will be developed after the facility in Maine. Illustration: Nordic Aquafarms.

Swift progress in California

Nordic first unveiled plans to build a RAS facility in January 2018, and confirmed plans for another salmon plant on the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County, northern California, towards the end of 2019.

In August last year Nordic said good collaboration with the authorities and many stakeholders in California had allowed swift progress there.

California had gained “significant timeline” compared to the process Nordic Aquafarms has been through in Maine, where the plan has met opposition from some residents who disagree with the location chosen and have expressed concern about the effect of discharges into Penobscot Bay.

The ownership of a section of foreshore which Nordic intends to use for pipeline access to the bay has been the subject of court case.

Army Corps permit

Nordic declined to say why it had given the Maine project priority but said it would release more news in the coming weeks.

In a letter to the Penobscot Bay Pilot last week, journalist Lawrence Reichard, a vociferous opponent of Nordic’s plan for Belfast, said permits the company had received from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Belfast Planning Board were being appealed, and Nordic has yet to receive a needed Army Corps of Engineers permit.

Nordic already runs a small salmon RAS in Fredrikstad, Norway, and grows yellowtail kingfish in a RAS in northern Denmark.