US coalition developing Atlantic salmon broodstock, egg production in Maine

A big pile of salmon eggs
SalmoGen is developing Atlantic salmon egg and broodstock production in the U.S. | Photo courtesy of KhunYing/Shutterstock
4 Min

A coalition between Cuna Del Mar, Builders Vision, Xcelerate Aqua, and the Maine Penobscot Indian Nation is working to develop a supply of Atlantic salmon broodstock and eggs in the United States.

SalmoGen, founded in late 2022 but publicly revealed in February 2024, aims to alleviate biosecurity risks and roadblocks associated with accessing salmon eggs and broodstock in the U.S. 

“We have been contemplating an Atlantic salmon broodstock opportunity for years, and in the SalmoGen case, the pieces came together in a way that moved us to invest and also be a committed industry partner,” Cuna Del Mar and SalmoGen Board Chair Chris Perry said.

Cuna Del Mar is backed by investments from the Walton family – the founders of Walmart – and has developed a portfolio of aquaculture companies including Earth Ocean Farms, OpenBlue, Innovasea, Sol Azul, The Center for Aquaculture Technologies, Blue Ocean Mariculture, and, recently, LocalCoho.

In its introductory announcement, SalmoGen said it is on track to develop a capacity of 25 million eggs annually for domestic and international sales in a first development phase while also aiming to mitigate what it believes is a constrained egg market in the U.S.

“Non-American strains of salmon eggs have been imported into the U.S. with biosecurity risks,” SalmoGen said. “In some states, only one egg option has been approved, while in other states, there have been no egg options available, essentially creating domestic industry barriers.”

The company has had broodstock under development in two different partner locations since late 2022. It has now also partnered with the Penobscot Indian Nation to develop a new facility on Penobscot Trust Land in the U.S. state of Maine.

“The Penobscot Indian Nation has been interested in aquaculture for some time,” Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis said. “This project fits very nicely on Indian Island, and we are excited to be a part of the solution for future aquaculture development in the U.S.”

While the Penobscot Nation provides land on which to build, founding coalition members such as Xcelerate Aqua bring salmon aquaculture expertise.

Xcelerate Aqua Managing Partner Erik Heim was part of the founding of Nordic Aquafarms – a planned land-based salmon aquaculture facility in Maine – before leaving that project and starting Xcelerate Aqua with co-owner Marianne Naess, who was also a part of the Nordic Aquafarms project. Xcelerate is developing a land-based salmon project of its own in Millinocket, Maine.

“We are pleased to be a part of an initiative that addresses a long-term aquaculture industry need in the U.S. and also a U.S. effort with many strong players involved,” Heim said. “The breeding strategies employed set a path for development of traits that will be attractive to producers.”

SalmoGen said its breeding development has sourced Atlantic salmon strains from the USDA as a “strategic genetics partner,” with emphasis on performance in land-based systems. The company said it expects to have its first products to the market by 2027.

The project has also received financial support from the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), and additional partners so far have included the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Maine, the University of Idaho, and the University of Maryland.

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