Whole Oceans' parent company settles PR Aqua lawsuit

Published on
May 10, 2022
A sign outside the proposed site of Whole Oceans' planned land-based salmon farm.

Emergent Holdings, the parent company of Whole Oceans, has settled a lawsuit between it and the former owners of PR Aqua – the consulting company it purchased to plan the land-based salmon project.

Whole Oceans announced plans for a land-based salmon farm in Bucksport, Maine, U.S.A. in 2018, with an initial announced cost of USD 250 million (EUR 237 million). In May 2019, Emergent Holdings purchased PR Aqua for USD 6.25 million (EUR 5.92 million), planning to use the company for its recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) design and site consultation.

“This is a pivotal moment for Whole Oceans and it’s exciting to see our thoughtful planning moving forward with PR Aqua as our partner,” Whole Oceans Senior Advisor Shayne De Lima said at the time. “PR Aqua is recognized around the world for their innovation, service, and expertise in recirculating aquaculture systems. We are proud to be working with them to advance this project.”

However, in July 2021, PR Aqua’s former owners, Nicholas and Gabriel Pranger, filed a lawsuit against Emergent Holdings, alleging the company defaulted on the terms of its purchasing contract. The lawsuit demanded either full payment of the remaining funds due – more than USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.37 million) – or the return of PR Aqua to Pranger’s ownership.

Whole Oceans countered by alleging the business plan by the Prangers underestimated the RAS project's costs by USD 150 million (EUR 142 million) "as a result of Nick’s poor planning and failure to take into consideration numerous pieces of equipment and other materials necessary for the project.”

The lawsuit was recently settled after the two companies went into mediation on 12 April, according to court documents. The terms of the settlement were not been disclosed.

A spokesperson for Whole Oceans told SeafoodSource that the company does not comment on legal matters "as a policy."

Whole Oceans’ project has been on hold for two years, despite receiving approval from the Bucksport Planning Board and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. That could change soon, as Whole Oceans Senior Project Manager Mike Thompson told SeafoodSource in late March the company is finalizing an agreement with a Maine construction company to begin site clean-up and other work.

“We're permitted for 20,000 metric tons per year and that's still the vision. That's what we're approved for with our waste discharge license and we think the site is well-suited for that,” Thompson said. “So that's the target that we'll be working towards, and all the plans that we're working on … are directed towards that goal.”  

Photo courtesy of Whole Oceans

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