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August 31, 2023

Kingfish Maine's plans for Jonesport aquaculture facility are upheld in court

hands holding fish COURTESY / KINGFISH MAINE Kingfish Maine began to harvest a small batch of yellowtail kingfish at the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin earlier this year.

Plans by Kingfish Maine to build a 50,000-square-foot aquaculture facility in Jonesport remain fully permitted, now that the Maine Superior Court has denied the latest appeal by the project’s opposition, the Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corp. and Eastern Maine Conservation Initiative.  

The court upheld the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s affirmation of Kingfish Maine’s Site Location of Development Act and Natural Resources Protection Act joint permit.   

The permit was issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2021 and affirmed, on appeal, by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection in 2022. The project is fully permitted by local and federal regulatory agencies.

This was Roque Island’s second appeal denial on the state level.

“The opposition from Roque Island continues to be unsuccessful in its appeals of the Kingfish Maine project,” said Megan Sorby, Kingfish Maine’s operations manager. “This latest appeal denial is a clear victory for Kingfish Maine and more importantly the residents of Jonesport.”

Kingfish Maine’s permit allows it to build a $110 million land-based recirculating aquaculture system facility in Jonesport. A loan insurance request for project preparation was approved earlier this year by the Finance Authority of Maine.

The planned facility would employ up to 100 workers during a phased build-out, although up to 10 full-time jobs at the site are expected once operational.

Kingfish Maine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kingfish Co. and will deploy the same advanced technology proven at the company’s facility in the Netherlands. Once the Jonesport facility is fully operational, it is projected to produce 8,500 metric tons of yellowtail. It’s expected that Kingfish Maine will be the largest producer of yellowtail kingfish in the U.S.

“We remain focused on the advancement of Kingfish Maine facility,” said Kingfish Company CEO Vincent Erenst. 

In its appeal, the petitioners raised issues with what it said was the Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s “failure to independently assess the project’s impact on wildlife” under the Natural Resources Protection Act.

According to the court decision: “…the Board did not violate NRPA or otherwise act unreasonably by failing to independently assess the project’s effluent discharges.”

Kingfish Maine is part of the Kingfish Co. (Euronext: KING) which produces Dutch yellowtail at its Kingfish Zeeland facility in the Netherlands. 

Earlier this year, the company harvested its first batch of yellowtail in Maine, while operating on a small scale under the name Kingfish Maine at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, an aquaculture research and development facility in Franklin.

Beginning in 2020, Kingfish Maine deployed recirculating aquaculture system technology at the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research to raise fingerlings from its sister company in the Netherlands. 

Yellowtail kingfish, also known as Ricciola, Hiramasa and Greater Amberjack, is considered a versatile premium fish species that’s well-known in Italian and Asian fusion cuisines.

Kingfish says its fish are cultivated in seawater and without the use of antibiotics and vaccines. Operations run on 100% renewable energy, sourced from wind, solar and biogas.

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