A computer rendering of the proposed Nordic Aquafarms site in Belfast. The company is preparing to apply for permits, with hopes of starting construction in spring of 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Nordic Aquafarms

Nordic Aquafarms, the European firm vying to build one of the world’s largest indoor salmon farms, has hired its first two Mainers to fill high-level posts.

Carter Cyr, a Cumberland native, will be the aquaculture facility’s production manager, and David Noyes of Kenduskeag is expected to join in October as the chief technology officer, the company announced Monday.

“We are very fortunate to have David and Carter be the first to join our team in Maine,” Nordic CEO Erik Heim said. “They bring significant aquaculture experience to our project, as well as a strong Maine work ethic and can-do attitude. We have already heard from many people who want to work with us, and we are looking forward to providing similar opportunities to others next year.”

Cyr is moving back to Maine from Florida, where he recently earned a master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic science from the University of Florida in Fort Pierce. He’s been living and studying in Florida for the past four years, after earning a bachelor’s degree in marine science from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. He also worked as an aquaculture biologist at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Nordic recently sent Cyr to one of the company’s facilities in Norway to see how it operates. Next week, he’ll be working out of Nordic’s new office space in downtown Belfast.

Noyes has a background in engineering and construction. He spent four years in scientific research at the University of Maine’s Aquacultural Research Institute, where he designed, built and maintained aquaculture systems. He has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from UMaine, and worked for Acadia Harvest in Franklin, raising several species of fish in recirculating aquaculture systems.

He recently worked as a laboratory assistant at the National Cold Water Aquaculture Center, USDA Agricultural Research Services in Franklin.

Nordic Aquafarms plans to build an indoor recirculating aquaculture system capable of producing 33,000 tons of Atlantic salmon per year. The site is in a wooded area off Route 1 near the Northport town line on land that was partly owned by the city’s water district and partly by a private owner.

The company expects to have about 50 employees by the time it completes its first construction phase in 2020 or 2021. That number could exceed 100 several years later once all phases are finished.

Nordic still has a long list of hurdles to clear. The company expects to start filing applications for state, federal and local permits later this summer. A similar but significantly smaller land-based Atlantic salmon farm is planned for Bucksport’s former paper mill site.

The Belfast proposal has met firm resistance from some residents, who have expressed concern with issues ranging from fish welfare and water use to how pollutants released into Penobscot Bay might affect the ecosystem. They’ve argued the project is moving too swiftly and have called for it to slow down in a series of at-times heated meetings.

City officials have been optimistic about the proposed development, arguing that Nordic would become the city’s largest taxpayer and provide sorely needed tax relief.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection would be responsible for setting limits on the nutrients that are released through a discharge pipe into the bay. Nordic has said any discharge will go through thorough filtration and treatment before it’s released to cut down on contaminants.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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