Whole Oceans hoping to expand footprint in Bucksport

Whole Oceans, which is in the pre-construction phase of its efforts to build a recirculating aquaculture system to raise up to 50,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon in Bucksport, Maine, U.S.A., has announced it will seek to expand the project to cover an additional 10 acres.

The company, which recently relocated its headquarters from Portland, Maine, to Bucksport, said it has added land including a wharf with a warehouse and other waterfront property accessing the Penobscot River estuary, where the farm’s saltwater intake will be.

The so-called Lot 3 property was formerly part of the old Verso paper mill in Bucksport, which was chosen as the site for the development after a six-year search.

“This gives us more than 10 acres where our saltwater intake will be and includes deep water access and a wharf with a warehouse,” Whole Oceans CEO Jacob Bartlett said. “We are excited about the opportunities this new property presents, and our team is exploring the best ways to use this parcel to enhance our entire project.”

As a result of the company’s decision to incorporate Lot 3 into its plan, Whole Oceans will need to update its permits from the town of Bucksport, and must work with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to update its state approvals.

“Whole Oceans continues to demonstrate its commitment to the Town of Bucksport through its significant investment in our community,” Bucksport Town Manager Susan Lessard said. “We look forward to working with them and exploring what this latest purchase means for the company and the community.”

Additionally, Whole Oceans is still finalizing the details of its design and is currently in negotiations on a contract for construction of the project, which then-CEO Rob Piasio told SeafoodSource in 2018 would require an investment of at least USD 250 million (EUR 203 million). In its 11 December press release, the company said construction costs have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It said it hoped to break ground on the facility “in the coming months” – a later date than what the company expected in October 2019, when it said it expected to break ground in the spring of 2020.

In its building permit application, submitted in August 2019, Whole Oceans outlined a plan to build a 945,000-square-foot site, including a 90,000-square-foot freshwater building and hatchery, followed by two grow-out buildings and a warehouse for feed.

“Aquaculture at this level is complex, and the addition of Lot 3 creates even more opportunities that must be considered. So, while you may not see a shovel in the ground yet, know that our team is working hard to develop the best designs that will result in a world class facility for Bucksport and the state of Maine,” Whole Oceans Senior Project Coordinator Michael Thompson said.

The parent company of Whole Oceans, Emergent Holdings, which announced in December 2019 it had signed a long-term lease to operate the Kuterra Salmon RAS facility in Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada, said in the press release the farm “continues to have successful harvests of quality Atlantic salmon.”

“We are currently achieving our production goals,” it said.

Photo courtesy of Whole Oceans


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