Welcome to the Sunrise Spirit –
the Weekly Newsletter of The Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise
We hope that you will attend one of our lively Friday meetings,
whether or not you are interested in joining Rotary.
We meet (almost) every Friday at 7 am in the Plaza View Room
of Arcata’s historic Jacoby Storehouse.
For more information and for the meeting links, please visit the RCAS Website.
Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create
lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
The RCAS Calendar
RISE: “Rotary Involvement Strengthens Everyone“
- September 24 – Wild Souls Ranch fundraiser – the “Sip of Summer Hard Cider Festival” from 1 to 5 pm, in Fortuna’s Rohner Park
- October 1 – Oktoberfest! Drive-thru fundraiser for RCAS at the Griffin
- October 15 – Foundation Dinner North
- October 16 – Fellowship Event – Miniature Golf action!
- October 19 – Women of Rotary meeting at the Griffin
- November 17 – The return of in-person Taste of the Holidays! All hands on deck at the Arcata Community Center!
- March 31 & April 1 – District Training Assembly
- May 4-7 – District Conference at Konocti Harbor Resort
- May 27-31 – Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia
RCAS went on the road, traveling to Samoa to visit the Nordic Aquafarms site. We were greeted by Nordic’s Project Manager, Scott Thompson, and Stacy Atkins-Salazar, who is working with Nordic to facilitate community outreach. Scott provided an overview of the global trade for farmed salmon, and he noted that there is a large market in North America. He said that we’ve reached the limit of the number of wild salmon that can be taken from the ocean sustainably.
Scott introduced us to the term RAS, which stands for recirculating aquaculture system. Nordic plans to use this well-tested technology in Samoa. He said that some people are concerned that the project will have a negative impact on the water level in Humboldt Bay. Scott said that the amount they will use is about one five thousandths of the amount of water that flows into and out of the bay each day.
The project began about three years ago, and Nordic has one permit to date. Scott said that their CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) permit is currently under review, but all of the permits have long processing times, due to the need for careful review and community input. Three local nonprofits have appealed the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to reverse their certification of Nordic’s Final Environmental Impact Report. The appeal is scheduled for September 28th, but Sunriser Craig Newman noted that we can express our views before that meeting by sending an email to your supervisor.
Stacy discussed the appeal, noting that she believes that the majority of the public backs the project, but she noted that the opponents of any project may be overrepresented in many public meetings. She said that members of the Nordic staff are also willing to discuss the project, via an online meeting that takes place on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. You are also welcome to contact Stacy directly with questions or concerns. Stacy also emphasized that Nordic Aquafarms has made a strong effort to be part of the community from Day One.
Scott told us that the technology that the project will use is state of the art, with the intent of minimizing the impact on the environment. They will use a lot of energy, he said, but they are committed to using 100% renewable energy. Craig Newman brought up the very similar Nordic Aquafarms project in Maine, saying that the company is trying to do “what they consider to be the right thing, and as sound environmentally as you can do anything these days”. Scott noted that the Maine project is about two years ahead of the local effort, but there is some resistance, and there have been quite a few court challenges. He said that these tend to move slowly, but the majority of the rulings to date have favored Nordic.
In response to a question, Scott estimated that the Nordic team (when the project is fully operational) will run to about 150 full-time position. Those jobs will span the educational spectrum. Given current shortages in the local workforce, Nordic is working with the County Board of Education, College of the Redwoods, and Cal Poly Humboldt to increase interest in aquaculture. Stacy noted that this is a worldwide industry, so local aquaculture students will not be limited to working with Nordic – they will have opportunities in many locations. Scott told us that when he graduated from Humboldt, there were no jobs for him locally. However, he was very happy to return when Nordic began its local operations.
As we began our tour of the grounds, Scott told us of the cleanup that has already taken place and the daunting tasks ahead. But he said that the location is in relatively good shape, giving that is housed a pulp mill for so long. We discussed the possibility of some of the materials – such as the brick and tile from the smokestacks – being recycled or reused, and someone noted that you may not want those on your kitchen countertops.
Scott then discussed some of the issues specific to the site, saying, “Yeah, we’ve got a lot of work to do.” He also said that when the new building is up on the site, the safest place in an earthquake and/or tsunami will be on the rooftops. There may not be time to evacuate by land (and that may not be a possibility if roads are overrun with water), so the facility will be prepared to help its employees and others on the peninsula for longer periods. The evacuation of other peninsula residents will be facilitated by the construction of external staircases leading to the roof.
Scott also fielded a question about the impact on truck traffic to and from the facility when it is completed. Scott said that the number of trucks will be comparable to the traffic created by logging trucks historically.
He then compared the food conversion rate for salmon vs. other farmed animals. Nordic’s farms provide about 1.05 pounds of feed for every pound of fish produced. Chicken require between 2 and 4 pounds of feed per pound of edible chicken, and cattle need about 6 to 10 pounds of feed. When the facility reaches peak production, they expect to produce 28,000 metric tons of salmon each year, which means that they need a supply of about 30,000 metric tons to maintain that output.
We closed our tour of the grounds at the dock where the seawater intake is located. Scott noted that it is screened off to protect the fish in the bay. The Harbor District will be replacing the current flat screen with a cylindrical screen that increases the surface area being screened, which in turn decreases the velocity of the water intake. “This means that fish can swim right up to it and swim away,” he said. “They don’t get stuck to it.” He also said that the screen’s openings will be one millimeter only.
For more information, click on the Nordic Aquafarms logo below to visit their website: