A lobster boat in Jonesport points across Moosabec Reach toward Beals in this Nov. 30, 2018 photo. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A Dutch aquaculture firm that announced plans last fall to expand to North America with a $110 million fish farm in Jonesport, where it hopes to produce 13 million or more pounds of yellowtail each year, is moving ahead with plans to apply to the state for a discharge permit in early August.

Kingfish Zeeland, which has an agreement to develop a 94-acre site on Dun Garvan Road, east of central Jonesport on Route 187, needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to draw and discharge seawater between the land-based plant and Chandler Bay. The company says it plans to filter and cool the water that is discharged into the bay to make sure it is clean and that it does not affect the water temperature in the bay, where many local lobstermen set their traps.

The company formally notified abutters this week of its intent to apply for the DEP permit. It plans to hold a public meeting about its DEP application, with COVID-19 precautions in place, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 21 at the Jonesport Fire Station on Main Street.

Kingfish officials said Tuesday that the discharge permit will be “one of the most critical permits” for the project. The company also is expected to apply for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and from the Jonesport planning board, which it will need to get prior to starting construction, possibly in 2021.

In April 2018, Kingfish Zeeland opened a land-based, recirculating aquaculture system in Kats, Netherlands, in Europe, that produces approximately 500 metric tons or 1.1 million pounds of yellowtail each year.

“Our Maine facility will be designed with the same advanced technology we use at our Kingfish Zeeland facility, which operates in a nature reserve,” Ohad Maiman, CEO of the Kingfish Company, said in an email Tuesday. “We are investing in an advanced filtration and heat exchange system which will allow us to reclaim heat from the water, therefore preventing temperature rise in the bay. Our designers and engineers listened to the concerns of residents and are also minimizing the pipe footprint to just below half a mile.”

Kingfish Zeeland’s land-based yellowtail farm in the Netherlands, pictured above, produces 600 tons of fish a year. The company plans to build a larger, $110 million land-based yellowtail fish farm in Jonesport, Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Kingfish Zeeland

The species cultivated by Kingfish Zeeland, Seriola lalandi, is known informally as yellowtail or amberjack and often is identified as hamachi on sushi menus. It has proven to be one of the most viable species, both commercially and biologically, for land-based aquaculture operations. The Kingfish Zeeland operation would join two other land-based aquaculture operations that are in the works in Maine. Those facilities, in Bucksport and Belfast, plan to raise Atlantic salmon.

In Jonesport, which has a population of roughly 1,400 residents, Kingfish Zeeland says it at first would employ 70 people, 60 of whom would not need prior specialized experience to work at the plant.

A potential second phase would involve increasing production capacity and establishing a hatchery, and would be contingent on a successful ramp-up of its presence in the U.S. marketplace, Maiman told SeafoodSource.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....