GOULDSBORO — The Planning Board took just 15 minutes March 20 to vote unanimous site plan approval for a company that wants to build a closed-loop aquaculture facility to raise Atlantic salmon on the former Navy base in the village of Corea.
Now comes the hard part.
The Connecticut company, Palom Aquaculture LLC, plans to grow as much as 2 million pounds of Atlantic salmon in tanks filled with seawater that is continually recirculated through a complex series of filters.
Land-based facilities are the aquaculture industry’s high-tech response to widespread and vocal objections from environmentalists and shorefront landowners to farming salmon, halibut or cod in net pens anchored in Maine’s coastal waters. Whether those facilities ultimately silence fish farming’s critics or prove to be just an expensive pipe dream remains to be seen.
To date, no one in North America has successfully raised Atlantic salmon in a land-based system on a commercial scale.
“Just because we’re the first doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Bryan Woods, one of the company’s principals, said after the meeting.
At the meeting, the Gouldsboro Planning Board granted approval to a site plan calling for construction of a football field-size building that will house 10 circular steel tanks each 60 feet in diameter. The design of the project’s recirculation system has yet to be completed, but the plumbing and filtration equipment needed to keep the thousands of Atlantic salmon growing in those tanks swimming in clean seawater, storage for the hundreds of tons of feed they will consume and some office space will also occupy some of the space in what Woods said was likely to be a hoop-roofed structure. Some of those facilities could, he told the Planning Board, also be located in one or two small, attached additions to the main building
The farm will use a lot of water and a lot of electricity to keep the water flowing through the system. Each 15-foot-deep tank will hold some 20,000 gallons, about 2 million gallons in all.
Water from the system will be drawn into the system through a pipe extending some 1,800 feet into Sand Cove.