The high desert of Nevada soon to become the West Coast’s largest supplier of farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

West Coast Salmon of Nevada spoke about its ambitious plans to build an industrial-scale Atlantic salmon farming operation near Winnemucca, Nevada that was a former hay farming operation.

West Coast Salmon closed on the 2,200-acre property in 2020 and has spent the past few years advancing its plans and refining design plans for the facility, said Ralph Runge, vice president of development for West Coast Salmon of Nevada.
At full buildout, the project is expected to cost in the range of $300 to $400 million, Runge said.

The WCS facility will consist of several parts, including a hatchery and fingerling/smolt area where fish are fattened, followed by increasingly larger grow-out tanks. The final grow-out tanks are 85 feet in diameter and 25 feet deep.
Fully-grown Atlantic salmon weigh at or near 12 pounds, Runge said. Ultimately, he added. West Coast Salmon of Nevada would produce as much as 60,000 tons of Atlantic salmon annually at the site.

“The future of fish is really onshore,” he said. “Wildlife fisheries are being overfished and are in decline. Net pens, which is the way a lot of fish are raised, are under a lot of environmental pressure – British Columbia announced they are going to phase theirs out by 2025, and Norway has put a resource tax on theirs.
“We want to be part of the water solution in Nevada and the American West,” Runge said. “This is a proven technology. We know that most of our (water) losses are from evaporation, and that’s where we will focus our conservation efforts.”

More than 99 percent of water used at the facility will be recycled, Runge added.

“It’s a very closed-loop system,” he said. “We disinfect the water, re-oxygenate it, and send it back into the tank. It’s a very efficient use of water, and very efficient use of water per pound of protein.”
Why Nevada? Runge said he’s often asked why a company would raise fish in the middle of Nevada’s high desert. The answer, he said, is because Nevada is a business-friendly state that’s close to the West Coast, which is one of the largest salmon markets in the world. Nevada’s arid climate and low cost for power are also important factors.

“We think the West Coast market is attractive,” he added. “The climate, geology and support from the state are very important for the location of our facility.”

West Coast Salmon of Nevada plans to use solar power to supplement what it draws from the power grid, and it also will build a large battery storage system to ensure available power at all times.