Q&A summary SalmoGen Company Inc
SalmoGen welcomes dialogue with the Penobscot Indian Nation community. This will happen in permitting, and we also wish to coordinate on construction activities to ensure that local impacts are kept at a minimum. Safety will also be a high priority. We hope to share information about operations and increase awareness of what the company will be doing as we move forward together. The company will also be happy to take questions, address any concerns, and in general take input from the community.
Below is Q&A for common and particular questions related to this development.
- What is a broodstock operation?
SalmoGen has planned out the first commercial broodstock operation for Atlantic
Salmon in the US, making Maine and Indian Island the go-to-place for future US salmon
producers needing to buy salmon eggs. The company will be specializing in genotyping
and selection to optimize fish welfare and growth performance for salmon in land-based
systems, a far more sustainable option than net pen farming. Revenue will come from
sale of salmon eggs. The company may also export eggs to Canada and beyond.
- Why is SalmoGen important?
The US imports over 90 percent of its Atlantic Salmon, the most consumed finfish in the
US. The seafood deficit is growing since the US has little domestic production and
because wild salmon fisheries on the west coast are volatile, under heavy pressure, and
only a make out small portion of total US salmon consumption. There are no wild
Atlantic Salmon commercial fisheries – all available product is farmed. It is important for
the US to develop more self-sufficiency on seafood – that will not come from wild catch.
Developing a US egg supplier will take down a key barrier for more domestic production.
- What is RAS?
The facility will run on so-called RAS technology (recirculating aquaculture systems). This
technology has been used for decades to run hatcheries and broodstock operations, also
to support wild fish restocking programs in the US. In short, water treatment technology
is used to recirculate water in tanks. Over 99 percent of the water is recirculated and reused
in each treatment cycle. The operations will be indoors in biosecure zones.
Advances over the years have increasingly made these systems more robust and reliable.
Benefits of RAS include stable conditions for the fish, protection against disease,
elimination of fish escape risk and capturing of nutrients from the farm.
- What are the environmental impacts of the operation?
Impacts are extremely limited. SalmoGen will be a small operation compared to harvest
size operations. The company will be applying environmental technologies for
discharge treatment that greatly reduce all nutrients in the water before discharge.
Given the size of receiving waters, the treated discharge will be non-detectable. The company will also have its own local waste handling. Larger land based farms it may be supplying are also increasingly becoming more sustainable.
- Will the building be expanded, and if so, how will it be expanded?
The building will be expanded somewhat, but only in narrow confines. No expansion will occur into the forest behind the building. Nothing will change at the bog walk. The expansions will only occur in the areas already asphalted around the building, and only a small part of that.
- What fish welfare standard will be maintained?
Fish welfare is a high priority because it is vital for this kind of an operation. A well-run
RAS operation creates very stable conditions for the fish and prevents exposure to sea
lice and diseases. Mortalities in such systems are generally far lower than in ocean-based
production. In a broodstock operation densities are also lower than in harvest size
operations. Maintaining high fish welfare standards is a critical condition for producing
- Where are the fish and genetics coming from?
From Maine. Our strain of salmon has its origin from the Saint Johns River. Other egg
options available today must be sourced from Iceland, Chile, or Norway. We have sourced
our eggs and fish from USDA in Franklin, who have maintained a broodstock operation
there for many years. Their primary purpose has been to support aquaculture
development in the US, but they do not have egg volumes to supply harvest size
operations. SalmoGen is currently holding its fish at Umaine in Franklin and at the
University of Idaho. Our fish will be transferred to the facility when it is ready to receive
- Can fish escape from the facility?
No. The facility will be located away from the nearest natural water body and all fish will
be held inside the building. Piping and systems are filled with multiple mechanical
barriers to prevent any escape. Incidents of escape in the past in land-based operations
have been related to old farms or farms transferring fish into well boats. Modern farms
like the one being proposed here do not have fish escape risk.
- What is in the fish feed?
Today, fish feed has a high content of vegetable and grain ingredients. Most feeds still
have a marine protein component, but this has been falling steadily with alternative
ingredients such as insect meal and algae products steadily increasing production. We
focus on natural ingredients in our fish formulas. Our feed supplier Skretting has a mill
across the Canadian border – approx. two hours away. They do extensive testing of
ingredients and also certify their ingredients in terms of sustainable sourcing.
- Are any harmful substances used?
Nothing is used that would impact the environment. The fish are held in a bio-secure
and clean environment. Nothing harmful is added to the water – the fish live in it. It is
very rare to need antibiotics in these systems because the fish are vaccinated and
disease is kept out of the system through biosecurity measures. Cleaners are used in the
facility to maintain clean conditions, but those are not used in the tanks or discharged.
- Where is the water coming from? Is the company trying to drill an aquifer?
The company is not trying to drill an aquifer. If the community has noticed drilling to this point, it has only been to check the soils and the location of the bedrock for construction purposes. There are two possibilities for water sources. One is public water. The other is to drill a bedrock well. A bedrock well is a well where the water is refilled naturally through rain and snow melt, so no potential tribal resources would be lost.
- How long will construction take?
The plan is to use and retrofit the existing building structure, with additions. The
external work will be done in 3-4 months once it begins, while internal installations will go on for about a year or so before fully complete. Detailed plans for this will be developed as the
company moves into engineering phase, and subject to local permitting. The company is
using PC Construction and SMRT architects here in Maine to support the civil work.
- How many jobs will be created?
We expect the operation to have about 17-18 staff when fully operational. The first
hiring will start this fall. Select jobs are highly skilled positions, while other positions
require training, but not a formal education. SalmoGen will always support Native preference.
- Will the operation smell?
No. Modern RAS facilities use advanced waste treatment technologies and are cleaned
on a daily basis – they do not smell. All operations are contained indoors.
- Will it be noisy?
Noise will be very limited. Some of the water treatment equipment may be heard
outside the building but will not be on a side facing any residences. If power goes out, back-up power generators may create some noise for a limited time.
- Will there be traffic?
Limited traffic is involved. The primary deliveries will be fish feed and liquid oxygen – at
most one truck a week for either. Outbound transport of eggs may involve one truck a
week. Beyond this, the only traffic will be employee cars. Construction traffic will be somewhat different but only for a short time.
- What is the company doing on wild salmon stocking?
The investors have jointly committed to support a non-profit wild salmon
restocking program in Maine, through the Penobscot Nation. Likely rivers to be targeted are the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. The local wild salmon strain will be used for this restocking program. The program will start up in collaboration with Umaine with the intent of building a
small separate broodstock facility for this wild salmon strain. The location for this is yet
to be determined. The plan is to stock these rivers with eggs and parr. We expect this to
be a close collaboration program with the investors and the Nation for wild salmon restocking in Maine.
- Who are the investors?
Two impact funds from the Walton family have comminuted to investment in partnership
with founder Xcelerate Aqua LLC out of Maine. Builders Initiative and Cuna Del Mar are
known for their social and environmental investment profile. Xcelerate Aqua is
committed to applying the best technologies to protect the environment and the fish.
The Penobscot Indian Nation will also be a co-investor and thus in a strong position to
influence decisions made as the company develops.
- What are the benefits of this project to the community?
First of all, it is a Penobscot project. The Penobscot Nation is presently a 25% owner and has all agreements in place to take control of the company when the Nation so decides. The company is projected to do $6 million in net profits by the fourth year. With 25% ownership, the Nation would receive $1.5 million of that annually. But the plan is for the Nation to eventually take 95% control or 100% ownership if it so chooses.
Secondly, jobs that pay well on the reservation. The management positions will pay especially well, and there will be 9-10 of those. The plan is to have Penobscot members work beside the top managers and take over those positions when they are ready. Thirdly, food sovereignty. This is a business that will produce 10-20 tons of top-quality salmon that will be distributed to the Penobscot community annually according to its needs. For free
SalmoGen is pleased to answer any further questions from the community.