RASTECH Magazine

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Proposed bill on Maine land-based aquaculture voted down


The defunct Verso Paper Mill will be the new site for Whole Oceans’ state-of-the-art RAS farm in Bucksport

A state bill proposing the exemption of land-based aquaculture businesses from building and energy codes was voted down by Maine’s state legislature.

Legislative Document (LD) 1473 would have benefited aquaculture company, Whole Oceans, which is seeking to broaden the scope of its US$180-million project in Bucksport, Maine.

The bill aims to add land-based aquaculture facilities to the buildings that are not subject to the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC). Without the bill, Whole Oceans would have install sprinkler and air handling systems on its planned facility under MUBEC regulations. This would cost the company $33 million, according to a report from Maine’s The Free Press Online.

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The Act To Exempt Land-based Aquaculture Facilities from the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code Requirements sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Rosen (R-Hancock) and submitted to the state senate in April 14, 2021. The bill was written the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development on the request of Whole Oceans.

Nearly all public testimony submitted in May to the state legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety was against the bill, according to report. LD 1473 was voted down at the request of the bill’s sponsor.

“The sponsor heard very clearly that this was a large move to exempt this new industry from MUBEC and has asked that we not go forward with that,” The Free Press Online quoted Committee Chair Rep. Charlotte Warren as saying. “… That’s why the sponsor has asked us to please vote ‘ought not to pass’ on the bill.”

Michael Thompson, senior project coordinator for Whole Ocean, said the company will to work with local and state officials in identifying codes applicable to land-based aquaculture.