Nordic Aquafarms today announced that a subsidiary, California Marine Investments, on Monday will enter into an exclusive option agreement with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District to lease 30 acres on the Samoa peninsula near Eureka in Humboldt County.

This will be the company’s second land-based aquaculture facility in the U.S., and its first on the West Coast. According to Nordic Aquafarms' CEO Bernt-Olav Roettingsnes, the agreement is aligned with the company´s U.S. strategy of building its facilities close to the regional markets it plans to serve.

A year ago, Nordic Aquafarms announced plans to build a land-based salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, to serve the East Coast markets. According to Nordic's Feb. 9 press release, the Belfast project is now in the permitting phase and the company plans to start construction later this year.

In today's announcement, Erik Heim, Nordic's U.S. president, said, “As we did on the East Coast, we conducted a thorough search over the past few months to find the right location for our West Coast expansion. This site meets all of our criteria for building a safe, clean and sustainable fish farm, and we have been welcomed by local authorities who are excited about the many benefits this project can bring to the area.”

The California location greatly simplifies permitting and provides significant infrastructure savings, according to the press release. The location already has an outfall pipe in place, established access to good fresh- and seawater sources, a substation with power onsite and other benefits. Key permits such as aquaculture licenses are also already in place.

Heim said the company is considering raising salmon or steelhead as options for the land-based facility, which will use a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, technology. A final decision on which species to raise will be based on market considerations and further discussions with the local permitting authorities.

Nordic Aquafarms has developed an innovative energy management approach that enables the company to be cost-competitive independent of local energy costs, according to the press release. Solar power will among other things be a part of the energy mix in California.

Commercial Director Marianne Naess said, “We will now be situated on both coasts, which fits into our strategy of locating fish farms close to major regional markets. The Humboldt location will enable us to reach more than 50 million people within a 12-hour drive or less, which reduces the cost and environmental impact of transportation, while supplying the market with super-fresh, sustainably raised local fish.”

The project is also seen as a good match for Humboldt County, according to the press release. Scott Adair, director of economic development for Humboldt County, said, “Humboldt County is a leader in the fisheries industry, and our community recognizes that it must continue to build on these strengths in order to achieve further economic success. This project fits well with that strategy.

“Nordic Aquafarms is an innovator within their own industry," Adair said. "Their project will create opportunity to improve local job quality and career potential, add to the overall vibrancy of the community and enhance quality of life for our residents. We are very excited for the potential of this project.”

According to Larry Oetker, executive director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, the district has already permitted properties on the Samoa peninsula for aquaculture. “We have been looking for an anchor project that will be a catalyst for attracting and developing an aquaculture cluster,” Oetker said. “Nordic Aquafarms and California Marine Investments provide that, and we are pleased to be working with them get this project under way as soon as possible.”

Naess said the company has begun engaging in discussions about the project with local authorities and stakeholder groups and looks forward to working closely with them as it moves forward. The company will now execute extensive due diligence and plans to submit permit applications by the spring of 2020.


filed under: