Nordic Aquafarms opens office near site of future salmon RAS facility in Maine

Published on
December 6, 2018

Nordic Aquafarms, the Norwegian company planning to build a USD 500 million (EUR 439 million) salmon recirculating aquaculture system in Belfast, Maine, announced that it has officially opened an office in the city. 

According to a 6 December company newsletter, the office “will serve as our local base of operations while our salmon farm is being permitted and built, as well as an information center and exhibit space where the public can drop by to learn more about our project and what it means for the community.” The company previously announced that it plans to begin construction on the first phase of the project – which will require a USD 150 million (EUR 131 million) investment – this summer. 

Nordic Aquafarms has already unveiled the scope of the future facility, which will be located on 40 acres of land on the outskirts of town. 

In addition to continuing dialogue with the local residents, the company also said that it has reached out to local lobstermen to assess whether byproducts of the facility’s salmon production can be used as bait. Lobstermen, including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, are worried about a potential for bait shortages in the coming season. Recently, cuts to the herring quota – a popular bait-fish for lobstermen – has led to concerns that many lobstermen will just sit home rather than pay exorbitant prices for the increasingly small amounts of bait available. 

“We have recently met with leaders from the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association, based here in Belfast, and others in the Maine lobster community in regard to the potential use of our cut-offs (heads, racks and guts) as lobster bait,” the company wrote. “Based on these discussions, we understand that the cost and availability of bait is an increasingly serious issue for lobstermen.”

Whether Nordic Aquafarms can actually use its byproducts as a bait solution largely depends on whether the Maine Department of Marine Resources allows it. Under current rules, salmon cut-offs from ocean-based net pens aren’t allowed due to the threat of introducing disease. 

However, Nordic Aquafarm’s land-based operation will have increased traceability and disease-prevention measures, something that could turn the tide in favor of using its cut-offs as bait. 

“We are committed to working collaboratively with industry and government representatives to see if our land-based operation can provide lobster bait,” the company wrote. 

Nordic Aquafarms also announced that it has created a new initiative called “Fish Feed 2020.” According to the company, the goal of the initiative is to work with suppliers and researchers to “come up with the best possible feed by the time we are ready to start production in 2020.”

The company has refrained from naming what type of feed it will use for the time being. 

“Nordic Aquafarms is not ready to finalize a feed choice because we are still two years away from feeding any fish in Maine, while new sustainable ingredients are rapidly emerging in the supplier markets,” the company wrote. 

The company has gone on the record that it plans to pursue sustainable feed ingredients that are non-GMO and is fully USDA and FDA approved. The feed will also be fully traceable, according to Nordic Aquafarms. 

Photo courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms 

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