A Norwegian company plans to construct one of world's largest aquaculture farms in Belfast within the next two years. State and community leaders gathered in Belfast Tuesday to welcome Nordic Aquafarms.
Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim says his company plans to raise Atlantic Salmon for global distribution. The budget for the facility's first phase, says Heim, is $150 million, which he expects to grow to $450 to $500 million.
"Why are we investing?" Heim said. "The U.S. has a very large deficit on seafood, you're importing most of your seafood and this goes for salmon as well, so this is an opportunity to bring it onshore. And the Maine cold water conditions, fresh water, sea water resources, all of the things have come together for this site in Belfast and believe me, we've been looking all over the place."
Gov. Paul LePage called the venture a good fit for the region.
"It's very very important," LePage said. "It's a land-based salmon farm. It's very very exciting. Maine is known for its fishing, forestry and farming and this fits right in. It's a rural state and it's a great addition to our Maine lobster."
Nordic Aquafarms is one of the premier international developers of land-based aquaculture. The Belfast operation will be constructed on a 40-acre site in what's described as an end-to-end operation, including hatcheries and fish processing.