The old pulp mill at Samoa. Photo: Harbor District.

On Monday, a growing European aquaculture company will announce plans to build a massive fish farm at the Harbor District’s Redwood Marine Terminal — the former Samoa pulp mill.

Nordic Aquafarms, the company behind the proposal, is a Norway-based firm with active fish farms in Denmark and Norway, with another $500 million project in development in the state of Maine. It currently produces farmed salmon and yellowtail at its European plants. [CORRECTION: Nordic’s Norwegian facility is still being built.]

According to Richard Marks, who sits on the Harbor District’s Board of Directors, Nordic Aquafarms’ plans include a brand-new, state-of-the-art, enormous facility — up to 600,000 square feet in size.

The Harbor District’s Board of Directors will hold a special meeting Monday afternoon, at which point it will almost certainly approve a lease agreement with the company. The meeting will begin in closed session at 12:30 p.m. at the district’s offices on Woodley Island, followed by an open meeting at 1:30 p.m. (See agenda here.)

Nordic takes a novel, or at least unusual, approach to farming saltwater fish: All its facilities are entirely on land, rather than in pens in the sea. The farmed fish are completely isolated from wild individuals so they can’t contaminate the gene pool, and the contained environment means that the water can be treated and removed of nutrients before it is released back to the sea — both answers to the most common environmental objections to farmed fish.

Since the Harbor District acquired the property in 2013, the Redwood Marine Terminal has become home a number of aquaculture companies, most or all of them in the shellfish business. If it goes forward, though, the Nordic Aquafarms development would dwarf all the others combined, and would also represent the largest outside investment in the area over the last couple of decades, at least.

We’ll learn more about the specifics of the proposal Monday, and the Outpost is scheduled to sit down with the company’s director of American operations later next week. Until then, here’s a press release from the Harbor District:

Humboldt Bay Harbor District Announces New 30-Acre, Several Hundred Million Dollar Coastal Dependent Industrial Development on the District’s Redwood Marine Terminal II Property 

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is excited to announce a new partnership and lease for a 30-acre coastal dependent development project at the Redwood Marine Terminal II facility. This project is a significant advancement of the District’s revitalization strategy for the property, and will include the removal of all remaining deteriorating buildings and unutilized infrastructure, and the construction of a modern facility that will create local living-wage jobs for the next 30 – 50 years. The project is expected to result in the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the local economy.

The Harbor District acquired the Redwood Marine Terminal II property, known locally as the “Pulp Mill”, in 2013 after the mill had been permanently shuttered. The purchase allowed the District to garner the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an emergency response action to remove approximately 2.7 million gallons of spent pulping liquors stored onsite in deteriorating aboveground storage tanks, protecting Humboldt Bay from potential catastrophic contamination. With the major environmental hazards removed, the District recognized that without quick action, maintenance, and repairs, the property’s infrastructure would rapidly deteriorate and the property would remain a blight on Humboldt Bay.

The Humboldt Bay Development Association was incorporated in 2015 with the purpose of supporting and implementing the improvements necessary to successfully redevelop the Redwood Marine Terminal II property. To that end, the Association obtained a $3.5 million New Market Tax Credit loan to repurpose, renovate and modernize approximately 200,000 square feet of buildings, a 20 MW electric substation, a 1300 square foot dock, the 30 million gallon per day ocean outfall pipe, access to 40 million gallons per day of freshwater, and other significant property assets. The District also entered a public/ private partnership to install a 730,000 kw solar system on the property to help offset District utility costs.

The Harbor District recently partnered with Humboldt County Planning and the California Coastal Commission to spearhead amendments to the County’s Coastal Zoning Code to significantly expanded the allowable uses which can occupy the existing Redwood Marine Terminal II buildings. Eighteen businesses, with approximately 65 employees, now legally occupy the existing buildings. The income generated from these leases has enabled the District to reinvest additional financial resources in the preparation and marketing of the property to coastal dependent industrial businesses. All of the foregoing efforts have culminated in this exciting new development. Once constructed, this project will enable the District to revitalize our port and look to future business opportunities such as renewable wind energy projects.

The Harbor District will host a public ceremony on Monday, February 11th at 1:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Woodley Island Marina, 601 Startare Drive, Eureka, to formally sign the new development lease. Additional details of the 30-acre project will be made available at that time.

 Section of the Redwood Marine Terminal up for lease at Monday’s special meeting of the Harbor District.

Above: News coverage from Maine concerning another Nordic Aquafarms development.