Former paper mill to house massive land-based salmon farm in Maine

Published on
February 23, 2018

A Maine-based company has announced its intention to purchase a paper mill in Bucksport, Maine and convert it into an indoor recirculating aquaculture system facility producing farmed Atlantic salmon.

Whole Oceans, headed by CEO Robert Piasio, will invest USD 250 million (EUR 203 million) into the project, which will produce 50,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon annually once operational, according to a company press release.

“The time for RAS has arrived and Whole Oceans will make Bucksport a global leader in sustainable Atlantic salmon production,” Piasio said. 

After a six-year search for a suitable location for the RAS facility, Paisio said he signed an agreement on Thursday, 15 February to purchase most of the former Verso paper mill site in Bucksport. The conversion of the mill into a state-of-the-art aquaculture center will begin in August 2018, he said.

“We literally couldn’t have sketched a better site than this one in Bucksport,” Piasio said in the release.

Both of Maine’s U.S. senators, as well as Maine Governor Paul LePage, issued statements commending the announcement.

“Whole Oceans’ investment is exciting news for Maine’s coastal economy and communities,” U.S. Sen.Susan Collins said. “Rob Piasio and his team are bringing innovative, sustainable jobs to Bucksport while providing the world with high-quality, wholesome salmon.”

U.S. Senator Angus King called aquaculture “a centerpiece of our state’s ocean economy” in his statement.

“As a result of careful planning and effort, Whole Oceans is bringing a new opportunity and economic diversification to a former industrial site, creating renewed economic vitality and jobs,” King said. “The innovative Whole Oceans aquaculture facility will reflect our ocean heritage in a new, environmentally sustainable manner.”

Whole Oceans already has pre-sold 100 percent of its total production for the next 10 years, according to Piasio. He added that he hopes to capture 10 percent of the market share for salmon sold in the United States.

“The logic behind Whole Oceans is simple: modern RAS technology provides a truly win/win outcome,” Piasio said. “Over time, Whole Oceans’ mission is to capture 10 percent of the U.S. Atlantic salmon market using only earth-friendly technologies. We will create hundreds of jobs and cement Maine’s leadership in the future of land-based aquaculture.”

Whole Oceans is the second company to announce a large indoor salmon aquaculture project in Maine in as many months. In January, Norway's Nordic Aquafarms went public with its plan to purchase 40 acres on the outskirts of Belfast, Maine, to build its farm, with an initial investment of USD 150 million (EUR 120 million).

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