Wyoming-based Aquabanq's planned recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon farm set to open in rural Millinocket, Maine, could be operational as early as the end of next year, Aquabanq's CEO AJ Shapiro told IntraFish.

The company is set to build the RAS plant at the former Millinocket mill site, which has been defunct since 2008.

The company is in the works of constructing a RAS plant with the capacity to produce about 5,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon by 2022, as well as five additional RAS facilities to double the production capacity by 2025.

The permitting for this project is somewhat different than what is required for other land-based farms in Maine such as Nordic Aquafarms in Belfast, Shapiro said, because Aquabanq is discharging effluent into freshwater versus saltwater.

"That means the discharge permit is already in place for the site. It just needs to be amended," he said.

"We don't have to go through the Army Corps of Engineers," he added of requirements that apply to projects such as Nordic's.

And, while declining to discuss details, Shapiro said the company is already looking to grow, particularly along the US East Coast in Maine, West Virginia and possibly Georgia.

"We're in the process of acquiring a few existing projects in North America," he said.

No pushback from local community

The site is home to the former Great Northern Paper Company, which in its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, produced over 16 percent of newsprint in the United States, according to the Bangor Daily News.

In 2017, an economic development nonprofit known as Our Katahdin acquired the 1,400-acre mill site for $1.00 (€0.91), according to a press release, and later worked out a deal to pay a $1.4 million (€1.3 million) to the IRS for a lien on the expansive property.

The nonprofit ultimately envisions the site as home to not only Aquabanq but "new technologies and abundant renewable natural resources, including forests, hydropower, agriculture and aquaculture," it says.

When asked whether Aquabanq received any pushback from local residents about the salmon farm, Shapiro said the company "does not have this dynamic."

Aquabanq salmon. Photo: Aquabanq

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the farm could be operational this year.