Permits and financing are ready for industrial-scale, land-based Atlantic salmon production in north Pershing County. Construction should start next year on the West Coast Salmon Farm at Cosgrave according to Pershing County Economic Development Director Heidi Lusby-Angvick.Lusby-Angvick made the announcement at last week’s county commission meeting. The salmon production and processing plant will be about 72 miles north of Lovelock and 22 miles south of Winnemucca so there will be nearby jobs for both Pershing and Humboldt County residents.

The “mystery project” will be a reality after years of negotiations, Lusby-Anvick said. Growing tons of fish in a drought-prone environment seems risky but West Coast Salmon has reportedly overcome surface and groundwater concerns. In 2015 litigation filed against the state water engineer, local irrigators claim the Humboldt River Basin’s groundwater has been overallocated causing declining flows in the Humboldt River and irrigation shortages during drought.


“West Coast Salmon has announced that they are making Pershing County their home!!!” Lusby-Angvick proclaimed by email. “I am beyond thrilled to diversify Pershing County’s, and the region’s, economy. We’ll need to celebrate then get back to business on planning to support this business and the region (housing, workforce, infrastructure, etc).” 

Aquaculture qualifies as agriculture so a special use permit will not be needed. Pershing County will receive immediate benefits from the 1.2 million square-foot, first-phase construction project.

“There’s going to be a substantial building permit fee for a project that size,” said County Commission Rob McDougal. “I want to be involved so I can help shepherd this project through the building department, those kinds of hurdles, so it’s as seamless and easy as possible.”

At this point, fish farm construction could start in the second quarter of 2021 with plant completion in the fourth quarter of 2022 but production could be underway before that.

“During the construction phase, they also start raising their salmon,” Lusby-Angvick said. “Once they get a tank in the ground, they put their smolt in it and it goes from smolt to full grown salmon in six months. They will also be building their processing facility during that first phase.”

Construction will require about 500 to 600 workers and the permanent workforce will start at 150 to 200 people and “will potentially be twice that number” if the fish farm expands, she said.

Although Humboldt County and Winnemucca will benefit from the nearby jobs, nearby communities in Pershing County could also benefit from the project, Lusby-Angvick said.

“This is also an opportunity for Imlay and Mill City to grow just a little bit,” she said. “We’ll see.”

Groundwater will irrigate crops as well as grow salmon, Lusby-Angvick told commissioners.

“They plan on keeping the pivots because they need beneficial use for when they release water,” Lusby-Angvick said. “They’ve known from the beginning to make sure you have your water. It’s still what Pershing County does. It’s still farming and that’s what we do.”

Jan Morrison of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority compared the potential economic benefits of salmon production to lithium production in Humboldt County.

“This project is comparable in size to Lithium Nevada and further diversifies our economy,” she said in an “Mystery project revealed” email to county leaders. “Lithium Nevada is already leading that front by not only mining the resource but processing it here in Humboldt County. West Coast Salmon will grow and process their product in Pershing County making for a very local supply chain...This will greatly benefit both counties and rural northern Nevada.”

According to Undercurrent News, the first goal of the West Coast Salmon plan is annual production of 12,600 tons of head-on gutted (HOG) salmon by the second half of 2024. The company owns enough land and water to expand the facility and produce 50,000 tons of HOG.