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.

Click HERE for our statement on the proposed land-based fish farm. We will continue to research and review Nordic AquaFarms’ proposal as new information is made available, and will keep our members and the community informed of opportunities for input.

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.

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.

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. 

According to Nordic AquaFarms’ conceptual video states, “We are introducing the largest full-integrated modular concept ever developed, with innovation leaps in fish-handling and logistics, with a minimal ecological footprint."

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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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