An illustration of Nordic's proposed salmon farm in Belfast, Maine.

Nordic’s US salmon farms will cost $1bn-plus

Work on Maine RAS facility expected to start this year, says company’s chief executive

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Nordic Aquafarms, which plans two large on-land salmon farms in the United States, will have to raise at least a billion dollars to fund the projects and a farm in Asia, its chief executive has said.

Bernt-Olav Røttingsnes spoke about the estimated costs in an interview with Norwegian business newspaper Finansavisen, in which he talked about plans for Europe and elsewhere.

Nordic wants to produce 33,000 tonnes of salmon annually at a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Belfast, Maine, and another 33,000 tonnes at a second facility on the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt, northern California.

$500-600 million

“Facilities in Asia are also being considered,” Røttingsnes told Finansavisen. “We will capitalise [for] this when the time is right. We are talking about between 500 million and 600 million dollars, fully developed. We expect to get started with the first project this year, and then number two will come after that.”

Røttingsnes confirmed to Fish Farming Expert this weekend that the figure of $500m-$600m was per facility, which puts the cost of the projects in the US at at least $1 billion.

Nordic Aquafarms recently split into two companies: Nordic Aquafarms Europe and Nordic Aquafarms Group. Both are majority-owned by Rasmussen Group AS, originally founded as a ship owning company in 1936 and still owned by members of the Rasmussen family.

Nordic Aquafarms Europe owns a yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) hatchery $and a separate on-land farm in Denmark, and an on-land salmon farm in Fredrikstad, in southeast Norway. Nordic is switching to kingfish in Fredrikstad because it fetches a better price per kilo.

The European operation raised NOK 90 million in fresh growth capital before Christmas, having raised NOK 150 m earlier in the year to expand production capacity in Denmark.

91.9% ownership

Nordic Aquafarms Group, which was previously the holding company for all Nordic’s operations, now looks after the planned US projects.

Rasmussen Group previously owned 35% of Nordic Aquafarms Group but now owns 91.9% following the reorganisation, Finansavisen reports. The company was worth almost NOK 25.8 billion ($2.6 bn at current exchange rates) at the end of 2021.

Nordic Aquafarms has been working through the permitting process for its RAS facility in Belfast for five years, during which time some local people opposed to the development have tried and failed to block the company’s progress in the courts.

The company announced plans for a salmon farm in California in late 2019, and is advanced in the permitting process.