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December 5, 2022

Swimming with the big fish: Jonesport aquaculture facility gets final approval

fish in tank COURTESY / KINGFISH ZEELAND Yellowtail kingfish produced at Kingfish Zeeland facility in the Netherlands, which is partnering with the University of Maine to build fish broodstock.

Kingfish Maine last week received the final approval it needed to establish a land-based aquaculture operation in Jonesport.

The local planning board finalized the Dutch firm’s building permit application, the final step in required for pre-construction design and engineering for the company’s $110 million facility on land at Natt Point, located at 9 Dun Garvin Road, roughly 5 miles from the center of town.

The project is now fully permitted by local, state and federal agencies.

Kingfish Maine is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Kingfish Co. and plans to deploy the same technology and operations proven at the company’s facility in the Netherlands. Once the Jonesport facility is fully operational, it is projected to produce 6,000 to 8,000 metric tons of yellowtail. The plan is to build a 500,000-square-foot facility and hire 70 to 100 people through a phased build-out.

rendering of building and woods
Seen here is a rendering of Kingfish Maine’s proposed land-based aquaculture facility in Jonesport

It’s expected that Kingfish Maine will be the largest producer of yellowtail kingfish in the U.S. and will provide seafood for North American retailers and food service providers.

"From the introduction of our project to the town three years ago to the final building permit approval this week, we have received overwhelming support from Jonesport residents,” Ohad Maiman, founder of the Kingfish Co., said in a news release. 

Pre-construction and design work is underway on the project. Groundwork is expected to begin in 2023.  

The fish-growing facility will operate on seawater and will include advanced filtration and heat exchange systems.

Current annual production capacity at the Kingfish Co.’s Kingfish Zeeland facility in the Netherlands is 1,500 tons of yellowtail. Expansion at the Netherlands plant is underway and capacity is expected to reach 3,500 tons in the second half of 2022. 

The fish are grown without antibiotics and vaccines. Operations run on 100% renewable energy, sourced from wind, solar and biogas. 

Yellowtail kingfish is also known as ricciola, hiramasa and greater amberjack. It’s considered a versatile premium fish species, well known in Italian and Asian fusion cuisines. Kingfish Co. is the largest yellowtail kingfish producer in the European Union.

In July, Jonesport voters rejected a proposed moratorium on the project, located near Chandler Bay on Route 187.

The moratorium would have imposed a 180-day prohibition, extendable by successive 180-day periods, on aquaculture development and processing applications within the town.

The company has a design team in place that’s partially in-house and is also working with Ramboll, a Danish consulting engineering group. 

The company first identified Jonesport as its preferred U.S. location in 2019. Last November, the company finalized the purchase of a 94-acre site, for $1.25 million, to build its land-based aquaculture facility.

The facility will serve as the company's U.S. hub to grow yellowtail kingfish.

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