News broke over the holiday weekend that Erik Heim and Marianne Naess, the two people who have been the face of Nordic Aquafarms here in Humboldt County for the past three and a half years, had suddenly and inexplicably parted ways with the company.
The announcement comes just weeks before a massive land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula is due to come before the Humboldt County Planning Commission for approval. While this executive shakeup seems to come at an inauspicious time for the Norwegian company, spokespeople have sought to assure the public that nothing of significance has changed.
Today the company issued the press release below, announcing that Maine native and current Nordic Aquafarms Chief Financial Officer Brenda Chandler has been appointed interim president. In an email, Stacy Atkins-Salazar, Arcata’s mayor and an independent contractor working for Nordic as a community liaison, offered more assurances, echoing a statement that fellow community liaison Lynette Mullen sent on Monday.
“[T]he project has not changed and agreements made regarding additional discharge monitoring, renewable and non-carbon energy use, commuting incentives and more are now part of the final EIR,” Atkins-Salazar writes. “The rest of the Nordic team also remains in place, so the project’s technical experts are still on board.”
Here’s the press release from Nordic Aquafarms:
PORTLAND, MAINE July 5, 2022, with ongoing success in the permitting process for projects in Maine and California, Nordic Aquafarms Inc announced today a change in U.S. leadership. Brenda Chandler, who has served as Nordic’s Chief Financial Officer for the past three and a half years, has been appointed interim president. Chandler assumed her new position over the weekend and will split her time between Humboldt, California and the Nordic corporate office in Portland, Maine. Erik Heim and Marianne Naess have left the company to pursue other opportunities.
Chandler is a Maine native with family roots in Belfast and Jonesport. She joined Nordic Aquafarms as Chief Financial Officer in March 2019 after a broad and successful career in the technology and paper sectors. She has progressive experience in treasury, risk management, finance, accounting and real estate. She has also served on the boards of non-profit youth organizations whose mission is enabling education for “at risk” teens. She and her husband, Anthony (Tony) Lyons live in Auburn, Maine, have six adult children and nine grandchildren. Chandler holds Bachelor of Science and Associate of Science degrees from the University of Maine at Augusta.
“We are thrilled to have Brenda step into this important role,” said Bernt Olav Rottingsnes, CEO and Chairman of the Board for parent company, Nordic Aquafarms Group, AS. “She is a proven leader who has served as key counsel in our permitting and project planning efforts to date. Her knowledge and understanding of developing bi-coastal sustainable land-based aquaculture in Maine and California is unmatched. She is exactly what we need at this time as we move towards project completion.”
“Nordic Aquafarms has a strong organization in Maine, California and the Nordics (Norway and Denmark), and continues to work closely together to develop NAF into a leader in the production of high quality locally sourced seafood” said Chandler. “This is an exciting time in our industry. I am honored to have been chosen to lead the company and I look forward to working alongside the good people in Belfast and Humboldt to develop projects their communities can be proud of.”
Bernt Olav Rottingsnes, the CEO and Chairman of the Board for parent company, Nordic Aquafarms Group, AS, will continue to serve as Chairman of Nordic Aquafarms Inc., while the remainder of the company leadership and staff in California and Maine remain unchanged.
Nordic Aquafarms, Inc. was awarded all permits for their Belfast, Maine project in 2021 from State, Local, and Federal agencies allowing them to continue development of the 56-acre site. The company is currently engaged in project planning with detailed design and pursuit of building permits upcoming. A similar project is underway in Samoa, California where the company is currently pursuing permits.
These salmon farms will complete Nordic Aquafarms bi-coastal production service initiative, providing a delivery of sustainably grown salmon to major populations on the east and west coast. The U.S. market for salmon is stronger than ever, and Nordic Aquafarms looks forward to being a leader in the production of high quality, locally sourced seafood. In addition, the projects will provide significant economic impact to the local areas.
Additionally, Nordic Aquafarms is pleased to share that Humboldt County, California has published the completed and final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which can be viewed on the county website https://humboldtgov.org/3218/Nordic-Aquafarms-Project . Nordic Aquafarms would like to thank the collaborative effort of the Humboldt County Planning Department, our local consulting partners, and efforts of the joint applicant- the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and their consultant partners. The EIR will be reviewed by the Planning Commission as part of the next steps. The entire Nordic Aquafarms team looks forward to continuing to demonstrate its commitment to this exciting project in Humboldt County.