By Stephen Rappaport
JONESPORT — The Dutch company that wants to build a huge land-based aquaculture facility on the shore of Chandler Bay has moved one step closer to achieving its goal.
In late September, the Kingfish Co., which currently grows Yellowtail Kingfish in the Netherlands, announced that the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands — a division of the Department of Conservation, Agriculture and Forestry — had finalized the Submerged Lands Lease Application by the company’s U.S. subsidiary, Kingfish Maine, for the installation of intake and discharge pipes.
The lease, yet to be approved, is a critical element for the construction of the company’s planned recirculating aquaculture system facility on the Mason Bay Road in Jonesport.
The planned facility will occupy some 15-20 acres of the 94-acre waterfront parcel of land the company has purchased. If completed, the estimated $110 million facility would produce some 6,000 to 8,000 metric tons (about 13.2 to 17.6 million pounds) annually of highvalue yellowtail, also known as Hamachi. It would also, according to the company, produce about $46 million in “added value” to the Downeast economy and create some 70 permanent jobs in Jonesport.
“We are encouraged by the approval of our permit application with no special conditions and no public objections,” Ohad Maiman, founder and CEO of The Kingfish Co., said in a statement. “Prior to submission, substantial design and engineering efforts were required to assure our future operation complies with state and federal regulations.”
The proposed submerged lands lease would allow the company to install two 4-foot diameter intake pipes and two discharge pipes of the same size from the facility to be built on a 94-acre parcel at the corner of Dun Garvin Road and Mason Bay Road under the intertidal beach at the water’s edge and then extending as much as 2,600 feet along the bottom of Chandler Bay. The pipes would be held in place by concrete “yokes” on the seabed.
At a community meeting held at the Jonesport fire station in July, Maiman — speaking via a Zoom connection from the Netherlands — described a system in which cooling water discharge pipes would extend some 2,600 feet offshore toward Ballast Island with the intake pipes extending about half as far. He told a small audience of local stakeholders that the
water discharged from the facility would be a few degrees cooler than the water drawn into the plant from Chandler Bay.
Since the mouths of the intake pipes will be closer to shore than those of the discharge pipes, Maiman told the meeting, it will be critical for the facility to properly cleanse and filter the water it discharges into Chandler Bay.
When the company presented a draft of its submerged lease application to the July meeting it had already gone “the extra mile,” Maiman said, to consider the concerns of Jonesport’s lobster fishermen, landowners and others and had “implemented several changes to our design prior to permit application so that we could mitigate such concerns.”
Submission of the submerged lands lease application is just the first step in a long process the company faces before it can receive the necessary Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The MPDES permit process reviews the company’s plans for eliminating pollutants such as liquid and solid fish waste and unconsumed feed from the water the facility would discharge into Chandler Bay.
In addition to the submerged lands lease, Kingfish also will need several other permits including a Site Location and Development Act (SLOTA) permit and a Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) permit before it can receive the MPDES permit.
The Kingfish Co. currently operates a land-based recirculating aquaculture system in the Dutch province of Zeeland on the marine estuary of the Eastern Scheldt River and has received several sustainable practice certifications.