Whole Oceans facility rendering Rendering courtesy John Gutwin of Pepperchrome (PRNewsfoto/Whole Oceans)

Whole Oceans to grow Atlantic salmon with land-based aquaculture operation

Maine-based company has already pre-sold 100% of production for next 10 years.

After more than six years of research and preparation, Whole Oceans chief executive officer Rob Piasio is leading efforts to launch a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) that will raise Atlantic salmon on the site of the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport, Maine.

At full production, Whole Oceans will create hundreds of direct jobs and invest more than $250 million in Bucksport, according to an announcement.

RAS is an entirely land-based technology that optimizes growing conditions to help fish thrive. Water is continuously recycled through ultra-purification systems, creating a clean, healthy growing environment that eliminates the use of antibiotics.

"The time for RAS has arrived, and Whole Oceans will make Bucksport a global leader in sustainable Atlantic salmon production," according to Piasio.

Whole Oceans is confident that land-based Atlantic salmon is a product in high demand, noting that it already has pre-sold 100% of its total production for the next 10 years.

According to Ben Willauer, Whole Oceans director of corporate development, "In all my years in investing, I have never seen a more obvious and compelling business model than Whole Oceans. All aspects of this plan have been carefully considered, with an uncompromising dedication to 'doing the right thing' toward every decision, at every level."

The Whole Oceans team understands that keeping Maine beautiful and maintaining its natural resources are vital. "The logic behind Whole Oceans is simple: modern RAS technology provides a truly win/win outcome," Piasio said. "Over time, Whole Oceans' mission is to capture 10% of the U.S. Atlantic salmon market using only Earth-friendly technologies. We will create hundreds of jobs and cement Maine's leadership in the future of land-based aquaculture.

"To execute our plan, we have assembled a team of global leaders in land-based technology, including Billund Aquaculture based in Denmark and the Conservation Fund's Freshwater Institute in West Virginia," Piasio added. "The Whole Oceans team brings together the world's longest and unmatched track record of success."

Whole Oceans is breaking ground in Bucksport in 2018 and will produce 50,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon per year using the RAS technology.

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