JONESPORT — Kingfish Maine, the company that plans to build a high-tech land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) on a 94-acre site in Jonesport, has notified townspeople of its plan to file an application for a Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) Permit with the state Department of Environmental Protection within the next month.
The company, owned by the Netherlands-based fish farmer the Kingfish Co., intends to grow some 6,000 to 8,000 metric tons (approximately 13.2 million to 17.6 million pounds) annually of high-value yellowtail, also known as Hamachi, in a state-of-the-art facility. The facility will encompass 15 to 20 acres of the waterfront site located about 1 mile east of town at the corner of the Mason Bay Road and Dun Garvan Road.
When the company first announced its plans late last year, it was already operating an RAS facility in the Dutch province of Zeeland producing antibiotic-free yellowtail. According to trade journal Seafood News, Kingfish Zeeland was producing between 6 and 12 metric tons per week in that facility and, according to company Chief Executive Officer Ohad Maiman, “optimizing on price.”
Obtaining an MEPDES permit is a critical precursor to construction and operation of the new facility. Kingfish Maine will host a public meeting to discuss the permitting application in the Jonesport Fire Station at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, following the state’s social distancing guidelines. The meeting will also be available online via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84559648405. Maiman is scheduled to participate in the meeting via Zoom.
“Our team has been actively engaged with Jonesport residents for the last 18 months, outlining our plans and identifying any concerns residents and lobstermen may have,” Megan Sorby, Kingfish Maine’s operations manager, said in a statement last week. “Two areas of interest we’ve discussed are the intake and discharge pipes as well as the temperature of the water we release back into Chandler Bay.
“We are confident this application addresses those concerns in a matter that will please everyone who lives and fishes in this area.”
Kingfish Maine’s Dutch parent company reports that it is the first land-based fish farm to receive Best Aquaculture Practices certification and the first Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified source of yellowtail kingfish.
Kingfish Maine plans to use the same advanced technology found in its Kingfish Zeeland facility to reduce the environmental impacts of the discharged effluents. The MPDES permit evaluates the facility’s discharge plans to ensure that it will maintain the water quality of the area based on the location of the discharge point and the make-up of the effluent water.
“Our Maine facility will be designed with the same advanced technology we use at our Kingfish Zeeland facility, which operates in a nature reserve,” company CEO Maiman said in a statement. “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.”
The completed permit application, which Kingfish Maine will file in early August, fully describes Kingfish Maine’s solids and nutrient filtration system as well as its heat recovery process.
Kingfish Maine has contracted with the University of Maine to conduct a study of the project’s economic impact on Jonesport and Downeast.
According to the company, preliminary data from the study shows a potential value-added, multiplier impact of $46 million to the region. Kingfish Maine says it expects to have 70 full-time employees when the RAS facility reaches full production.