Nordic AquaFarms proposes to build a land-based fish farm at the former Samoa pulp mill that they say would use a mixture of fresh and salt water to raise 33,000 tons of fish (what species is not known), discharging 7.7 million gallons of effluent daily through the existing 1½-mile long ocean outfall. Remodeling the former pulp mill would include sampling soil for contamination and removing the smokestack and other unused structures at the site, along with other improvements. 

We will continue to research and review Nordic AquaFarms’ proposal, and will keep our members and the community informed of opportunities for input.

Humboldt County is poised to become a hub for aquaculture, as the Harbor District has approved a lease for a Norway-based company that aims to build a fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula. 

 

The district’s Board of Commissioners approved a 30-year lease with a subsidiary of Nordic Aquafarms on February 11, in a closed session special meeting followed by a public hearing. 

 

The Humboldt Baykeeper advocacy group has indicated that it will monitor the project and comment on it as it takes form. For now, the group has questioned the short timing between the lease’s approval and its prior public announcement. 

 

Baykeeper’s staff met with Nordic Aquafarms before the lease approval and Jen Kalt, the group’s director, said the proposal is formative. 

 

“They’ve said that they won’t grow Atlantic salmon, they won’t grow GMO fish and they won’t use antibiotics,” she continued. “But they’re not sure what fish they’re going to raise so they can’t point to the source of the fish stock or anything like that – there’s really nothing specific, it’s vague at this point.” 

 

Baykeeper’s focus of concern will be on ocean discharge but “we haven’t had time to go into the details on that because this has come up so suddenly,” said Kalt. 

 

Nordic Aquafarms will now work to gain ground on public interaction. The company’s representatives were in town for the entire week following the lease approval and Kalt said a meeting with Baykeeper and member groups of the Northcoast Environmental Center was set. 

 

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On February 11, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, & Conservation District voted unanimously to approve a $20,000/year, 3-year “Option Period” for the company to secure all the necessary permits, and a 30-year lease agreement with two 10-year options for its former pulp mill site in Samoa, giving Nordic AquaFarms / California Marine Investments, LLC site control while it develops plans and pursues permits for a land-based fish farm. 

Despite assurances that their goal is "full disclosure," the Harbor District did not provide the lease agreement in advance of Monday's public hearing, which was announced Friday afternoon, unnecessarily creating a climate of distrust rather than an opportunity for meaningful public input.

Photo of the site in 2014 by Jennifer Savage, Surfrider Foundation.

If everything goes as planned, fresh fish raised in tanks on the now blighted former pulp mill site will be making its way across the West Coast in four years, opening up new avenues for economic development in a region still reeling from downturns in the once mainstay lumber and fishing industries.

 

At least that is the realistic best hope of officials with Nordic Aquafarms, the Norwegian company behind the proposed land-based facility that looks to ultimately produce some 25,000 tons of farmed fish a year here on the North Coast.

 

The clock was set in motion Feb. 11 with the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District's decision to sign a 30-year lease with Nordic amid concerns that the deal was ushered through without public input.

Monday meeting set to OK 30-acre lease; 80 local jobs foreseen

 

Hundreds of millions of dollars and 80 jobs are coming to Humboldt Bay, according to recent announcements from the harbor district and a Norwegian-owned fish farm company.

 

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Board of Directors at a special meeting Monday is set to consider leasing 30 acres on the Samoa Peninsula to California Marine Investments, a subsidiary of Norway-based Nordic Aquafarms, for use as a land-based aquaculture facility.

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