A group of prominent Norwegian businessmen have been quietly crafting a plan for a sizable land-based Atlantic salmon farm outside Reno, Nevada, sources familiar with the project told IntraFish.

West Coast Salmon, which has been under development for close to a year and a half, is targeting up to 15,000 metric tons of production in its first phase, and is reportedly advanced in its planning and permitting process.

Among the marquee names leading the project is Hallvard Muri, the former CEO of aquaculture equipment supplier Akva Group and a longtime executive at several of Kjell Inge Rokke's Aker companies. Muri, who joined the group in early November, is chairman of the board.

Johan Henrik Krefting, a former board member with stock-listed land-based salmon farming giant Atlantic Sapphire and Icelandic salmon farmer Arnarlax, will serve as CEO.

Krefting was formerly the CEO of Vatne Capital, a NOK 3 billion (€262 million/$293 million) fund owned by Norwegian property magnate Runar Vatne.

Vatne Capital holds a 5.7 percent stake in Atlantic Sapphire, and Rune Vatne serves on the company's board.

The West Coast Salmon project will reportedly be developed in three phases, with phase one targeting production of between 10,000-15,000 metric tons.

Three major Scandinavian banks are committed to the project, and the group is reportedly near completing its financing round, one source said.

Karl-Johan Standal, a former executive with DnB and Pareto Securities, will serve as chief financial officer of the project, while Canada-based aquaculture consultant Justin Henry has been named CTO for the operation.

Per Christian Haukenes, a financier and former executive with Pareto and RS Platou, was one of the founders of the project, along with other executives, including Texas-based Jostein Hauge.

Muri and other West Coast Salmon executives declined to comment to IntraFish for this story.

Split may yield 'me too' project

The West Coast Salmon project may end up being the genesis of not one but two major US operations. Other executives involved in the early stages of planning the West Coast Salmon project split off to raise financing for their own operation.

That project, dubbed American Salmon, is reportedly operating on a similar business plan, and has been on its own hunt for backers.

Among the executives linked to that project are former Pareto Securities executive Henrik Tangen, as well as Jonathan Brown, the owner of smoked salmon producer Grants Smoked Foods in the United Kingdom, and former owner of US smokehouse MacKnight Food Group.

American Salmon is registered with the state of Maryland at the address of a former poultry processing plant an hour outside of Washington, DC and Baltimore.

Brown has also registered a business named American Salmon in Henderson, Nevada, whose listed address for the business is a post office box at a UPS Store.

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