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Norwegian company to build one of the world's largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast

Tuesday, January 30th 2018

Norwegian company to build one of the world's largest land-based salmon farms in Belfast

After assessing international markets and conducting comprehensive site searches throughout New England, Nordic Aquafarms, headquartered in Norway and one of the premier international developers of land-based aquaculture, has signed agreements to purchase 40 acres on the outskirts of Belfast, where it will build one of the world's largest land-based salmon farms, according to a news release from the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce.

The announcement was made in Belfast on Jan. 30.

Nordic Aquafarms plans to construct a land-based salmon operation with a 33,000 ton annual production capacity, in several phases. The initial phase will involve an Investment of $150 million and is expected to employee 60 people when completed in the next two years. When fully built out, the facility will represent a total capital investment of between $450 million and $500 million. The end-to-end operation will includehatcheries and fish processing, the release stated.

At a news conference attended by Maine Gov. Paul LePage and other state and local officials, Nordic Aquafarm's CEO Erik Heim said: "We see this as an attractive opportunity to bring our know-how, solutions and capital strength to the United States. We are committed to producing super fresh, high quality seafood with a low environmental footprint for U.S. consumers. That requires local production, and we believe that we have found an ideal site here in Maine. We look forward to becoming a responsible and contributing member of the Maine seafood industry.”

Heim said that Maine was chosen after an extensive search based on its pristine environment, cold water conditions, long history as a leader in the seafood industry and proximity to major consumer markets in the Northeastern United States.

He added that Nordic Aquafarms will be developing production with low impact discharge of water that is free of any chemicals or medications, that all waste will be recycled and that the facility will feature renewable energy solutions.

For the past six months, Nordic Aquafarms has been working closely behind the scenes with Maine & Co., the private , non-profit corporation that assists companies looking to locate or expand Maine, Ransom Consulting, INC, consulting engineers and scientists, the City of Belfast, and the Belfast Water District, whose property on Northport Avenue the company has an agreement to purchase for its new facility.

"From our very first meeting we recognized that Nordic Aquafarms is exactly the kind of successful, innovative company we need in Maine to help grow our economy and create the jobs of the future," said Peter DelGreco, Maine & company CEO. "Nordic Aquafarms has demonstrated a commitment and passion for producing high quality seafood in accordance with the highest sustainable and environmental standards.”

The land that Nordic Aquafarms has agreements to acquire includes approximately 26 acres on Northport Ave (Route 1) that now belongs to the Belfast Water District, which will re-locate its office and garages to a new site, and another 14 acres of abutting land from a private landowner. According to the terms of agreements with the water district, Nordic Aquafarms also will purchase a volume of water for the district, giving it new annual revenue and ensuring that the sale will not have any adverse impacts on rates for water district customers.

Heim said the proposed site has suitable qualities for a land-based seafood farming based on initial due diligence, but Nordic Aquafarms will now proceed with final due diligence, planning and permitting. Construction is expected to start in 2019, with operations commencing in 2020. Phase 1, with a capacity of some 13,000 tons, will be the largest land-based facility project ever build in one construction Phase. It will house the largest aquaculture tanks in the world, currently being designed in Norway.

In addition to the 60 new high-skilled jobs created in the first stage of the project, many new commercial relationships between Norwegian and Maine business communities are expected. Heim said he expects to see positive economic development effects both in Maine and in Norway, where Nordic Aquafarms has its international development hub.

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