The underlying environmental implication of “paper or plastic?” is quite huge. Building and operating a large-scale land-based fish farm presents an ecological complexity that has so far taken Nordic Aquafarms 1,800 pages to begin to address. Citizens reviewing Nordic’s draft environmental impact report on the implications of the fish plant produced their own volumes on February 18 for the county’s planning department to review and respond to.
Some responses simply found Nordic’s analysis flawed. For example, critics claim that the company uses faulty data to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. In another instance, some noted that Nordic used information from a water test point that does not reflect the true water intake and discharge of the project.
Humboldt Baykeeper, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities, Surfrider Foundation, the Northcoast Environmental Center, 350 Humboldt, the Environmental Protection Information Center, Friends of the Eel River, Save California Salmon, and the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter North Group collectively proposed what the Environmental nonprofits call it a “road map” for Nordic to follow in order to build a plant that they say will pass legal and local scrutiny.
Here are some of the highlights of the analysis and a summary of the public response.
Against the tide — energy and climate
Nordic’s energy data drew the most criticism. It would use 21% of the county’s total electrical demand, as much as the cities of Eureka and Fortuna combined. And although Nordic intends to build its own 4.8 megawatt solar installation, it would only contribute a figurative flashlight (3%) to the fish farm’s estimated electricity demand.
Environmental groups suggest the company legally commit to buying 100% renewable energy by increasing its own solar build and buying local renewables where possible. This may not be a problem if plans for an offshore wind farm are complete. But if that project doesn’t materialize, transmission constraints currently prevent Nordic from importing enough renewable energy to meet its needs.
Nordic project manager Scott Thompson said committing to certain energy sources would disarm the company’s ability to negotiate future prices. He added that the electricity needed, mainly for pumping and cooling, would be about the power of two offshore wind turbines. But this offshore wind power is far from guaranteed. In part, it’s a bit of a “chicken and egg” problem – wind developers don’t want to bid on expensive new wind turbine rentals and infrastructure unless they can sell it locally; local industry, such as the fish factory, cannot promise to use electricity until it is built.
Nordic’s project takes the position that no significant greenhouse gases will be generated by the development. This is “totally abnormal”, according to 350 Humboldt. Nordic relied on PG&E data to reach its conclusion and the utility’s information is flawed, 350 Humboldt and other organizations said.
Refrigerants are another impact on greenhouse gases. Fish need to be cold and greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants are glossed over in Nordic’s plans, environmental groups say.
Make it up
After the fish are done with their H2O, the plant is set to discharge 12 million gallons of treated wastewater per day. This discharge would also be warmer with lower pH and salinity than the receiving ocean waters. While Thompson said the warmer water will cool to sea temperature within 10 feet of it being discharged through the outlet and ocean temperatures will warm up anyway, environmentalists fear that this combination has the potential to exacerbate toxic algal blooms. Critics also note that there could be antibiotic – and potentially chemically toxic – effluent from the plant.
Environmental groups and others, including the Salmonid Restoration Federation, say modeling using data from ocean waters near the point of release would be more accurate than what’s in the DEIR, and that unspecified protective actions should be triggered before another algal bloom creates dangerous levels of domoic acid.
“Exposure to viruses, loss of habitat (including food and cover), timing of exposure to toxic chemicals, disruption of migration, thermal pollution, and localized acid bloom Domoic all deserve further consideration in the final EIR,” commented wildlife biologist Alison Willy. “This is especially true for vulnerable species such as green sturgeon, chinook salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, eulachon, smelt and Dungeness crab. Adverse effects on local fisheries are reasonably certain to occur as a result of the Project. These negative effects come at a time when our fisheries and local wildlife are already stressed by climate change, marine warming and harmful algal blooms.”
Fishing without bikes
There is no doubt that vehicle traffic will increase if the plant is built. Shipments of harvested fish to market are expected to result in 95 truck trips per week. Environmental groups argue that the total number of vehicle trips would be at least double, noting that it does not include other increases in traffic accessing the facility, such as deliveries. The groups suggest using electric vehicles as soon as they become available to reduce greenhouse gases, as well as carpooling for workers. Some residents say the increase in traffic is intolerable.
According to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Wiyot Tribe, tiny fish that feed the food chain can be inhaled into the facility’s absorption system, which claim that drawing 12 million gallons of water a day for Humboldt Bay is bound to catch a few. Life form.
“Although screen size and maximum approach speed are designed to have minimal impact,” the Wiyot wrote, trapping “culturally important and endangered fish.” [are] probably unavoidable.”
Thompson said the Harbor District is still analyzing the effect of the proposed admissions system on tiny creatures, like longfin smelt, and will use it to create “compensatory mitigation” measures, like preserving environments of other fisheries.
From farm to table
Nordic’s land-based fish factory is expected to grow 25,000 tonnes of edible Atlantic salmon per year. The fish goes to local distribution centers and then to the supply chain, with 40% going to retail and the rest going to wholesale markets. If it’s on your shopping list, the company said in an email, its farmed Atlantic salmon is for the “high end” of the farmed fish price bracket, now at around $15. the pound, “but not as high as the wild fish. .”
Many advocate eating their protein lower on the food chain for greater environmental sustainability. Growing pulses for subsistence, for example, creates far less of an impact on the land than cattle feedlots, because it takes more protein and related energy to make that pound of hamburger than it does to one pound of beans. For this reason, what northern farmed fish are fed creates impact levels. Fish feed has its own greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups noted. According to the data, they say that fish feed production is responsible for more than 90% of aquaculture’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. They say the company ‘ignores the carbon footprint of food’ in its DEIR, asking that the final EIR ‘quantify the carbon intensity of various raw materials’, including the use of vegetable protein and flour. insects.
For example, 350 Humboldt proposes that food for northern fish should have the same or less protein content as the fish themselves, so that no more resources are needed to create the fish than the fish offers. . Thompson said he expects the feed conversion ratio to be around 1-1, meaning there will be a bit more protein than in fish, but a much lower than, for example, chickens. Nordic, however, is still looking for sustainable, local food sources at the moment.
Work for scale
Local 3 of the Operations Engineers Union, educational institutions and real estate companies have sent dozens of letters in support of the potential for about 150 high-paying positions the facility aims to fill with employees full time.
Locovore — no project, no way
The Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association tops this category. People who depend on wild fish for a living believe that the Pacific coast is no place for Atlantic salmon. They fear Atlantic salmon eggs cannot be proven virus-free, which could contaminate wild Pacific salmon fisheries. They also fear a possible loss of jobs.