Sunday, February 10, 2019

Massive Fish Farm Proposed for Pulp Mill Site (Video)

Posted By on Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 1:40 PM

click to enlarge A rendering of the Belfast, Maine, facility. - NORDIC AQUAFARMS
  • Nordic Aquafarms
  • A rendering of the Belfast, Maine, facility.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and Norwegian company Nordic Aquafarms are set to formally sign a lease Monday for the development of a massive fish farm at the former Samoa Pulp Mill.

According to the harbor district, the project will include “the removal of all remaining deteriorating buildings and unutilized infrastructure” at the 30-acre property, which was the site of a multi-agency clean-up effort in 2014 to avert a looming catastrophic environmental disaster on the edge of Humboldt Bay.

Read previous Journal coverage about the removal of nearly 3 million gallons of caustic pulping liquors abandoned in failing storage tanks by Evergreen Pulp here, here and here.

The proposed project is forecast to “result in the investment of hundreds of millions dollars in the local economy,” the harbor district’s release states.

According to a report in seafood business publication Undercurrent, the project “represents a potential $400 million investment,” bringing around 80 jobs. Eventually, the article states, plans are to produce some 25,000 tons of fish a year at the facility.

In a Facebook post linking to the article, harbor district Commissioner Richard Marks described the fish farm as a nearly half-billion-dollar project, writing that “new construction will bring many hardhats to the area and then many high end Fishery jobs for biologists form Humboldt State.”

A land-based aquaculture facility – likely producing salmon or steelhead – the venture will serve as the West Coast base of operations for Nordic Aquafarms, which is currently in the process of developing an East Coast equivalent in Belfast, Maine, according to the company.

The facility will use what is known as recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, which utilizes large tanks and water treatment systems in raising the fish. The company says the method prevents many of the common concerns associated with farm fishing in offshore pens, including pollution from waste, chemical use and the potential to pass on diseases and parasites to wild fish.

Nordic Aquafarms Concept from Netron on Vimeo.

“We will now be situated on both coasts, which fits into our strategy of locating fish farms close to major regional markets,” said Marianne Naess, Nordic’s commercial director, in a release. “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.”


Nordic’s proposed Maine facility, situated on Penobscot Bay, has not been without controversy, however.

According to a December article in the Boston Globe, the plans have “sparked significant dissent” in Belfast, a small city of fewer than 7,000 that fought to transform itself following the demise of a harmful legacy of chicken processing plants and canneries that polluted the bay and once left a lingering odor in the air, much the way Samoa Pulp Mill fumes blanketed Eureka.

Belfast opponents, according to the article, “say city officials are being seduced by the project’s potential economic benefits into risking the hard-fought environmental improvements that have helped make Penobscot Bay one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.”

But the project also has support from what the Boston Globe describes as “major environmental and scientific groups,” including the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Meanwhile, Nordic touts itself as a “trailblazer in the land-based fish farming industry” that is “setting new standards for clean discharge, to energy efficiency and solar power, to refusing to use GMO or antibiotics in its production.”

Local officials described the fish farm as a good fit for the region with the potential to provide additional economic benefits.

“Nordic Aquafarms is an innovator within their own industry,” said Scott Adair, the county’s director of economic development. “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.”

In agreement was Larry Oetker, the harbor district’s executive director.

“We have been looking for an anchor project that will be a catalyst for attracting and developing an aquaculture cluster,” he said in a company release. “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.”

The company’s release says Nordic has begun discussing the project with” local authorities and stakeholder groups” and will continue to do so as it moves to “execute extensive due diligence."

Permit applications are expected to be submitted by the spring of 2020.

“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,” Nordic Aquafarms´ U.S. President Erik Heim said in the release. “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.”

A public ceremony to sign the lease will take place at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the conference room at the Woodley Island Marina, 601 Startare Drive.

Read the release from Nordic Aquafarms below:
EUREKA, CA – Nordic Aquafarms, an international leader in land-based aquaculture, today announced that a subsidiary, California Marine Investments, will on Monday 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 US, and its first on the West Coast. According to Nordic Aquafarms´ CEO Bernt-Olav Roettingsnes, the agreement is aligned with the company´s US strategy of building its facilities close to the regional markets it plans to serve.
One year ago, Nordic Aquafarms announced plans to build a land-based salmon farm in Belfast, Maine to serve the East Coast markets. That project is now in the permitting phase and plan to start construction later this year.

“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,” said Nordic Aquafarms´ US President Erik Heim. “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.”

This unique location greatly simplifies permitting and provides significant infrastructure savings. The location already has an outfall pipe in place, established access to good fresh- and seawater sources, a substation with power on site and many more 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 state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system, or RAS, technology. A final decision on which species to raise will be based on market considerations market 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. Solar power will among other things be a part of the energy mix in California.
“We will now be situated on both coasts, which fits into our strategy of locating fish farms close to major regional markets,” said Commercial Director Marianne Naess. “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. “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,” said Scott Adair, director of economic development for Humboldt County. “Nordic Aquafarms is an innovator within their own industry. 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,” said Oetker. “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.

About Nordic Aquafarms
Nordic Aquafarms (www.nordicaquafarms.com) is one of the premier investors and developers in land-based aquaculture internationally, with production facilities in Norway (Fredrikstad Seafood) and Denmark (Sashimi Royal and Maximus), and two projects under development in the United States. The company is a trailblazer in the land-based fish farming industry with employees in three countries and well-established financial investors. The company has a strong in-house engineering capability that has enabled significant innovation in RAS development.

Nordic Aquafarms is developing sustainable fish farming practices for the future to deliver super fresh high-quality seafood to regional markets and is committed to a low environmental impact and sustainability in every facet of the business, from setting new standards for clean discharge, to energy efficiency and solar power, to refusing to use GMO or antibiotics in its production.

In January of 2018, Nordic Aquafarms Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary, announced plans for a land-based salmon farm on the Atlantic Coast in Belfast, Maine, to be built in two to three phases. Construction is expected to start in 2019, with operations commencing in 2020.

In February of 2019, Nordic Aquafarms Inc., announced plans plans to build a land-based fish farm in Humboldt County, Calif., near Eureka, to serve West Coast markets.

Land-based aquaculture
Land-based RAS production is a rapidly emerging method for sustainable production of salmon. It is based on indoor production in a controlled environment using large tanks and water treatment systems. Its benefits include:

§ the ability to recycle and treat water on site to reduce overall water consumption;
§ recycling of waste resources and nutrients;
§ the prevention of sea lice and parasites;
§ the elimination of fish escape into the sea and co-mingling with wild species;
§ the application of renewable energy concepts;
§ a shorter distance to market for a high quality, fresh product, reducing the carbon footprint of air and land transport; and
§ consistent quality and traceability all year round

Videos depicting the RAS technology that Nordic Aquafarms will use in Maine and California can be seen here seen here.

Demand for fresh seafood
The U.S. today imports more than 90% of its seafood and demand continues to grow. The U.S. and many other countries in the world can never become self-sufficient on wild-caught fish, particularly with the many ecological challenges we are seeing in oceans worldwide, such as pollution and climate change effects.

To meet current demand, much of the fresh fish consumed in the U.S. is air-freighted at a significant cost and with considerable carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. To achieve growth in domestic supply of fresh local fish in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner, fish farming is a necessity and we will see much more of it in the coming years. Since sea-pen farming is controversial in the U.S. and wild-catch resources are limited, the many benefits of land-based farming should make our approach widely acceptable and a high priority in the US.
Read the harbor district release below:
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is excited to announce a new partnership and lease for a 30-acre coastal dependent development project at the Redwood Marine Terminal II facility. This project is a significant advancement of the District’s revitalization strategy for the property, and will include the removal of all remaining deteriorating buildings and unutilized infrastructure, and the construction of a modern facility that will create local living-wage jobs for the next 30 – 50 years. The project is expected to result in the investment of hundreds of million dollars in the local economy.

The Harbor District acquired the Redwood Marine Terminal II property, known locally as the “Pulp Mill”, in 2013 after the mill had been permanently shuttered. The purchase allowed the District to garner the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an emergency response action to remove approximately 2.7 million gallons of spent pulping liquors stored onsite in deteriorating aboveground storage tanks, protecting Humboldt Bay from potential catastrophic contamination. With the major environmental hazards removed, the District recognized that without quick action, maintenance, and repairs, the property’s infrastructure would rapidly deteriorate and the property would remain a blight on Humboldt Bay.

The Humboldt Bay Development Association was incorporated in 2015 with the purpose of supporting and implementing the improvements necessary to successfully redevelop the Redwood Marine Terminal II property. To that end, the Association obtained a $3.5 million New Market Tax Credit loan to repurpose, renovate and modernize approximately 200,000 square feet of buildings, a 20 MW electric substation, a 1300 square foot dock, the 30 million gallon per day ocean outfall pipe, access to 40 million gallons per day of freshwater, and other significant property assets. The District also entered a public/ private partnership to install a 730,000 kw solar system on the property to help offset District utility costs.

The Harbor District recently partnered with Humboldt County Planning and the California Coastal Commission to spearhead amendments to the County’s Coastal Zoning Code to significantly expanded the allowable uses which can occupy the existing Redwood Marine Terminal II buildings. Eighteen businesses, with approximately 65 employees, now legally occupy the existing buildings. The income generated from these leases has enabled the District to reinvest additional financial resources in the preparation and marketing of the property to coastal dependent industrial businesses.

All of the foregoing efforts have culminated in this exciting new development. Once constructed, this project will enable the District to revitalize our port and look to future business opportunities such as renewable wind energy projects.

The Harbor District will host a public ceremony on Monday, February 11th at 1:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Woodley Island Marina, 601 Startare Drive, Eureka, to formally sign the new development lease. Additional details of the 30-acre project will be made available at that time.

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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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