It’s official. Whole Oceans will raise Atlantic salmon at the former Verso mill site.

Whole Oceans announced Tuesday that it has closed the deal with AIM Development, USA LLC. Whole Oceans plans to raise Atlantic salmon in a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system.

The milestone marks the culmination of many months of permitting efforts, as well as negotiations with AIM, and is a significant step forward for the project, officials said in a statement.

“The progress on the Whole Oceans project in Bucksport, Maine, is exceeding expectations,” said Jason Mitchell, president of Whole Oceans. “It’s amazing what can be achieved when the community, local government and business collaborate toward common goals. Advances in permitting, site diligence, design and construction planning really highlight the opportunity that this project delivers.”

Mitchell continued, “Bucksport is an optimal location for this type of operation, and we are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the town of Bucksport, and to making this community a world leader in our industry.”

Jeff McGlin, vice president of AIM Development, said, “American Iron and Metal is happy that the efforts of various stakeholders have culminated today in the successful conclusion of the sale by AIM of a portion of the former Bucksport Mill site to Whole Oceans.” AIM is owned by American Iron and Metal.

Gov. Janet Mills said, “My administration is thrilled to welcome Whole Oceans to Maine. This investment will provide good-paying jobs for hard-working Mainers, help build on our heritage industries and diversify our economy and offer promising opportunities for continued growth in the future. I applaud Whole Oceans and look forward to its success in Bucksport and the region.”

Susan Lessard, Bucksport town manager, said, “We look forward to a long-term partnership with Whole Oceans as they develop their land-based aquaculture industry here in Bucksport. Their commitment to the environment, to setting the standard for this emerging industry, and for being a good corporate citizen in our community has been well received by the people of Bucksport.”

Maine Sen. Kim Rosen said, “We in Bucksport are proud to be developing our community into new and exciting industries, such as aquaculture by Whole Oceans. The way our community has embraced Whole Oceans is a wonderful tribute to our communities’ openness to change.”

Whole Oceans officials anticipate breaking ground on their facility this year.

The company plans initially to produce 5,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon annually and grow to 10,000 metric tons annually. Over time, the Whole Oceans plans to increase capacity to 20,000 metric tons per year on the Bucksport site and up to 50,000 metric tons in the region. Whole Oceans is also actively seeking sites for production on the West Coast.