Caroline officials clear way for salmon farmYonathan Zohar, head of the Aquaculture Research Center at the University System of Maryland’s Ins...Caroline officials clear way for salmon farm
Yonathan Zohar, head of the Aquaculture Research Center at the University System of Maryland’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, shows salmon being raised in tanks in Baltimore. A Norwegian company seeks to build a salmon in Federalsburg.
Bay Journal photo by Dave Harp
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DENTON — Caroline County Commissioners cleared the way Nov. 24 for the next step in Norwegian company AquaCon’s quest to build a $300 million indoor salmon farm in Federalsburg. They voted unanimously to amend the county’s comprehensive water and sewer plan to include service to more than 211 acres annexed into the town for the project, Ordinance 2020-023. They also approved the requested zoning change from residential to general industrial, Ordinance 2020-024.
The ordinances both received favorable recommendations from the county planning commission, and the town of Federalsburg sent a letter of support. Sara Visintainer, commissioners’ chief of staff, said they received just one emailed public comment from Logan Dunn of Federalsburg, “No fish farm.”
If the company passes the remaining town hurdles, it hopes to harvest 3 million fish a year by 2024.
AquaCon’s salmon-rearing facility would have one of the largest building footprints on the Delmarva Peninsula. Containing 25 acres of space under a single roof, the facility will be roughly the combined size of six Walmart Supercenters, the Bay Journal reported earlier this year.
Americans eat more than 2.5 pounds of salmon per capita annually, according to the National Fisheries Institute. More than 90% of the salmon consumed in the United States is imported. Most is Atlantic salmon produced by aquaculture operations in Norway, Chile, Scotland and Canada.
Atlantic salmon, which can grow to 30 inches and weigh 12 pounds, once spawned in every East Coast river from New York north into Canada. But fishing so depleted the stock in U.S. waters that the fishery was shut down in 1948. It has never recovered, and the species is listed as endangered.
Traditionally, most imported salmon has been raised to market size in open sea pens, but that has several environmental downsides.