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State bill could ease road for Whole Ocean’s Maine project

May 6, 2021  By  Nestor Arellano

Whole Oceans Bucksport RAS site (Image from Whole Oceans)

Land-based aquaculture facilities could be exempt from certain building and energy-related codes if a bill recently filed in Maine’s state legislature is approved. If bill, LD 1473 becomes a state law, this could benefit aquaculture company Whole Oceans which is seeking to broaden the scope of its US$180-million project to build a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Bucksport, Maine.

The Act To Exempt Land-based Aquaculture Facilities from the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code Requirements sponsored by Senator Kimberly Rosen (R-Hancock) and submitted to the state senate in April 14, according to the State of Maine Legislature.

The bill aims to add land-based aquaculture facilities to the buildings that are not subject to the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.


This would mean projects such as Whole Oceans’ plan to transform the old use of the former Verso Paper mills site into a RAS facility could be exempt from some codes just as buildings that contain livestock or harvested crops in Maine are.

For instance, Whole Oceans would have needed an “elaborate and expensive” sprinkler system for its planned facility under existing regulations, according to a report from The Ellensworth American newspaper. Such a system is not necessary for the building the aquaculture company is planning, Charlene Williams, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, was quoted as saying in the report.

The exemption brings the aquaculture industry in line with the agriculture industry, said Williams.

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