Nordic Aquafarms unveils preliminary RAS facility design, hires three US employees

Nordic Aquafarms has been making steady progress on their planned RAS salmon facility in Belfast, Maine, U.S.A. 

The facility cleared the first hurdle in April when Belfast’s City Council approved a zoning change allowing for the construction of the facility. Since then, the company has been working towards acquiring both state and federal permitting for the facility, which would be the largest indoor salmon farm in the world when completed.

Nordic Aquafarms initially announced the plans for the facility back in January. The first phase is expected to require an investment of USD 150 million (EUR 129.2 million). Constructed in phases, when complete the facility is expected to cost USD 500 million (EUR 431 million) and produce 33,000 tons of Atlantic salmon per year.

The company recently released a video detailing what the new facility could look like when completed. The video highlighted significant buffering between the building’s exterior and the surrounding community. 

The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2021. 

The company also recently announced local hiring for the facility. Marianne Naess, formerly occupying a senior executive position at McKesson, has been hired as the director of operations in North America, overseeing public relations, marketing, and organizational development. 

Carter Cyr was hired as the first aquaculture employee in Maine. A Maine native, Cyr has a master’s degree in aquaculture from the University of Florida, Fort Pierce and is moving back to his home state. 

"I'm thrilled to be able to return home to Maine and to put my education and training in aquaculture to work on this exciting project," Cyr said in a news release. "Land-based aquaculture is the future of fish farming and the Nordic Aquafarms project in Belfast is leading the way."

David Noyes of Kenduskeag, Maine has also been hired for the position of chief technology officer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of Maine in 2014, and subsequently worked at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and as the operations manager for Acadia Harvest in Franklin, Maine, where he oversaw multiple RAS facilities. 

"Nordic Aquafarms is giving me a great opportunity to utilize all the skills I have acquired over the years, along with my extensive RAS experience, right here in Maine," Noyes said in the release. "This project is going to create career opportunities for many other Maine people, and I am excited to be a part of it."

As part of the Maine project, the company is constructing a 10,000-square-meter facility in Fredrikstad, Norway. That facility received its construction permit on 25 June. 

The new permit approves construction for "Phase 2" of the Norway facility, with Phase 1 expected to be completed before the end of the year, according to Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim.

"The Belfast is an evolution from our existing projects in the Nordics. We have two facilities in operation in Denmark, and are completing the construction of the Norwegian phase 1 facility this year," Heim told SeafoodSource. "We are preparing for Phase 2 of the Norwegian facility with construction starting around New Year's."

The Norway facility will be a smaller version of the facility in Maine, intended to be a test-bed for the company's new RAS technology. 

"This includes a smolt facility and an upgraded grow-out design," Heim said. "This design is the model for the Maine facility."

Slated to be the largest RAS facility in Europe once completed, the new facility “features a bundle of new innovations related to efficient footprint,  self-cleaning tanks, efficient logistics and environmental standards,” according to Nordic Aquafarms. 

“The new design removes 99 percent of most nutrients before discharge,” the company wrote in a release. “The planning and engineering has been in the making for over a year, and we are looking forward to getting started on construction of the pilot facility in Norway.”


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