Local officials and community members joined Nordic Aquafarms representatives for a site tour of the proposed onshore fish farm at the defunct Samoa pulp mill facility Thursday. The Norway-based seafood company launched the tour series last week in an effort to address community concerns surrounding the project.

Earlier this year, Nordic agreed to pursue an environmental impact report for the project in response to calls for further environmental analysis.

Although the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department had already released a mitigated negative declaration for the project, a coalition of environmental groups argued that the assessment didn’t go far enough, citing concerns of energy use, fish feed, fish waste disposal, water use and transportation impacts.

If all goes according to plan, Naess said the EIR will be out for public review in September.

“Then it goes for a 45-day public comment period and then, of course, we will need to respond to everything,” she said. “Then hopefully we will receive the final approval. Depending on whether or not it’s appealed, the project would go before the Board of Supervisors.”

Those interested in scheduling a tour of the project site can contact local liaison Lynette Mullen via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is close to opening up the coast for competitive bids for development. What is in store for Humboldt County? Matthew Marshall from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority joins Gang Green on the latest EcoNews Report to discuss.

Click HERE to listen to this episode. 

The EcoNews Report is a weekly environmental news roundup produced in Arcata, California by Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center, Friends of the Eel River, and Humboldt Baykeeper.

Tune in to KHUM, Radio Without the Rules, on Saturdays at 10am (104.3 & 104.7 FM or streaming at khum.org).  

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Executives from Nordic Aquafarms were busy this week giving a series of tours out on the Samoa Peninsula, offering politicians, environmentalists, fishermen and others an up-close view of the dilapidated industrial site — home to the corroding remains of the Evergreen Pulp mill — where the company plans to build a large, land-based fish farm.

The draft environmental impact report for the project is still being prepared, so some of the details remain in flux. 

Jennifer Kalt, executive director of environmental nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, said her organization still has concerns about whether the project can be completed in a way that protects the ecosystems of Humboldt Bay and the nearby Pacific. But after touring the site on Wednesday, she said in a Facebook post that the project would include not only much-needed cleanup but also construction of a modern stormwater system. 

“As it stands today, every major rainstorm carries polluted runoff into the bay,” the post reads. “And the way our legal system works, it will stay that way until someone invests in the cleanup. Nordic estimates it will cost $10+ million to demolish and remove everything. Sure, the Harbor District can continue applying for EPA Brownfields grants, but at $250,000 apiece, it would take several lifetimes.”

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Humboldt State University is expanding and diversifying its seaweed research farm in Humboldt Bay to include bull kelp this summer. With the help of HSU students, researchers aim to inform future decisions about commercial aquaculture and conservation efforts.

Researchers will add 0.33 acres to its existing seaweed farm and create a kelp hatchery onshore at the Humboldt State Marine Lab. The farm, called HSU-ProvidenSea, sits in a permitted area just a few hundred yards off the shores of Humboldt Bay. Students will gain practical ocean farming experience, monitor the reproduction and growth of the bull kelp, track factors like water quality and temperature, and evaluate the cost of seeding and production.

After launching California’s first open-water commercial seaweed farm last year, researchers noticed that bull kelp was growing naturally on lines intended for dulse seaweed.

Kelp traps an outsized amount of carbon dioxide and reduces acidification, a byproduct of a rapidly changing atmosphere. Kelp can also be used for human consumption, animal feed, agricultural fertilizer, as sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic, and more.

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University of Nevada, Reno researcher to create predictive models to better protect pets and humans
While algae growing in our lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be quite visible, the algae in many of our rivers and their tributaries is often not so obvious, lurking on the bottom of the rivers, and clinging to rocks. Yet, some of these riverbed blue-green algae, referred to as “cyanobacteria,” can create algal blooms that produce toxins harmful not only to aquatic life, but also to pets, livestock and humans. University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Joanna Blaszczak is conducting research to identify the specific conditions conducive to producing these blooms and their toxins, so that water managers can know when they are going to occur and take actions to better protect animals, humans and river ecosystems.

The research will be conducted through 2023, funded by almost $200,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology. Blaszczak, in the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, is partnering with several other entities to study three river systems in northern California – the Russian, Klamath and Eel – to research one type of these toxins in particular, a neurotoxin called anatoxin. She says the Mediterranean climate conditions in northern California, with long, dry summers, are partly what allows the “cyanoHABS” (cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms) to form.

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