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: Bill Trotter | BDN

Kingfish Maine, a division of a Dutch firm that is looking to construct a yellowtail farm on a shorefront property in Jonesport, has received state approval to install water discharge pipes that would extend half a mile into Chandler Bay.

The two pipes would extend more than 2,500 feet, or roughly half a mile, into Chandler Bay from the proposed 94-acre aquaculture development site on Dun Garvan Road, according to a public notice about the permit application issued last month by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Calling it a “critical permit” for the project, Kingfish officials said this week that their application to the state for installing the pipes had been approved. The permit is a sign of progress for one of three large, land-based aquaculture operations planned for development on the Maine coast. In addition to Kingfish, Nordic Aquafarms has plans to build a $500 million salmon farm in Belfast, while Whole Oceans is looking to develop a $180 million salmon farm at the former Verso Paper mill site in Bucksport.

In all, four pipes will extend out into the bay from Kingfish’s land-based fish farm, two discharge pipes and two intake pipes. The intake pipes will extend roughly a quarter mile into the bay, or about half as far as the discharge pipes. The corridor along the ocean floor where the pipes will run will be about 40 feet wide for the first 1,200 feet, 20 feet wide for the next approximately 1,200 feet, and then 100 feet wide for the last remaining 150 feet, so the ends of the discharge pipes can be placed 100 feet apart, according to the notice.

A diffuser will be placed at the end of the discharge pipes, to help the filtered and cooled water dissipate into Chandler Bay. Company officials have assured local fishermen that the discharged water will be free of pollutants and will match the ambient temperature of the bay. Approximately 550 cubic yards of material would be dredged from the ocean bottom in the pipe corridor when the pipes are installed.

Now that the Bureau of Parks and Lands has approved the location and configuration of the intake and discharge pipes, the state Department of Environmental Protection will consider the company’s application to draw water from Chandler Bay and then to discharge it (after treatment) back into the bay, a Kingfish official said Tuesday.

The company announced plans last fall to expand to North America with a $110 million fish farm in the lobster fishing community of Jonesport, where it hopes to produce 13 million or more pounds of yellowtail each year. Its parent company, Kingfish Zeeland, opened a land-based, recirculating aquaculture system in Kats, Netherlands, in Europe, in 2018, where it produces approximately 500 metric tons or 1.1 million pounds of yellowtail each year.

Kingfish Maine also is expected to apply for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Jonesport planning board, which it will need prior to starting construction, possibly in 2021. The state Department of Marine Resources also will have input on the project, according to company officials.

Yellowtail, or seriola lalandi, often is identified as hamachi on sushi menus and has proven to be one of the most viable species, both commercially and biologically, for land-based aquaculture operations.

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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....