No Construction On Proposed Salmon Farm Despite Greenlight

BUCKSPORT, Maine (AP) — A proposed salmon farm located at the site of the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport has not started construction despite receiving the necessary permits two years ago.

A spokesperson for the company, Whole Oceans — which proposed the land-based aquaculture facility located on 100 acres along the Penobscot River — could not provide an update on when construction would start, the Bangor Daily News reported Friday.

The project received permits from the Bucksport Planning Board and approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2019. In 2020, the company bought a second plot of land at the old mill site that it said meant it needed to review its plans.

“Aquaculture at this level is complex, and the addition of (the second parcel) creates even more opportunities that must be considered,” Michael Thompson, a senior project coordinator, said at the time. “So, while you may not see a shovel in the ground yet, know that our team is working hard to develop the best designs that will result in a world-class facility for Bucksport and the state of Maine.”

Bucksport Code Enforcement Officer Luke Chiavelli told the newspaper he had not received any applications related to construction on the second plot. The current approvals are valid for five years.

The company is in compliance with permits and has paid its taxes, Susan Lessard, the Bucksport town manager, told the newspaper.

“We’re not going to tell them how to run their show,” she said.

She said the company told her they were in the process of hiring a new CEO and there have been multiple previous changes in the company's leadership in the past three years, the newspaper reported.