Emergent Holdings, the parent company of Whole Oceans, and Kuterra LP have agreed to an offer that would give Emergent Holdings a majority stake in an Atlantic salmon recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) in Canada.
The agreement still requires the approval of the 'Namgis Council, the governing body of the 'Namgis First Nation, which founded the business and which still owns 100 percent of the company.
Kuterra has been growing Atlantic salmon in a RAS since 2013, in a facility on Vancouver Island, British Columbia that has been owned entirely by the 'Namgis First Nation. Whole Oceans is the company that announced in February 2018 that it plans to construct a salmon RAS in Bucksport, Maine that will initially produce 5,000 metric tons (MT) of salmon a year, with plans to grow that to up to 20,000 MT.
Kuterra was the first commercial-scale RAS salmon operation in North America, and the second operational in the world.
“Kuterra has shown that land-based RAS Atlantic salmon farming is environmentally safe and economically sound at scale, and that it grows premium quality, sustainably produced Atlantic salmon that meets consumers' expectations,” the company said in a release.
Kuterra salmon had its market launch in 2014, and since then has been designated "Best Choice" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and SeaChoice.
“Kuterra’s work has accelerated the growth of our land-based aquaculture industry, and benefits Emergent's operations in several ways,” Jacob Bartlett of Emergent Holdings said. “Kuterra's expertise in growing fish will support Whole Oceans’ operations on the East Coast. And when Kuterra's expertise is combined with Emergent's new production systems, we'll have a strong base of operations from which we can build our West Coast capacity."
The chair of Kuterra, Eric Hobson, said that the firms plan to bring the proposal before the 'Namgis Council, with a decision sometime in July. The decision to give Emergent Holdings a majority stake must be approved by the council before the deal can move forward.
The Vancouver farm is 100-percent owned by the 'Namgis First Nation
"We're delighted with the synergies between Emergent and Kuterra, which will accelerate our companies' business growth and land-based industry growth, while advancing the mission of the 'Namgis First Nation to develop next generation Atlantic salmon aquaculture on land,” Hobson said.
Whole Oceans recently completed the purchase of the Bucksport, Maine property – which formerly housed a Verso paper mill – after it reached an agreement with American Iron and Metal, the property owners, on 21 May. According to Whole Oceans CEO Jason Mitchell, this latest agreement with Kuterra will serve to benefit the project even further.
“The Whole Oceans project in Bucksport, Maine will benefit greatly from this arrangement,” Mitchell said. “Given Kuterra’s successful proof of concept, we are excited to work with their experienced staff and gain valuable insights and synergies to advance our workforce training, as well as technological and marketing expertise. We look forward to being part of a larger picture that will deliver fresh, premium salmon to both coasts of North America."
Photo courtesy of Kuterra