Kingfish Maine has begun harvesting around 3.6 tonnes of stock from its tanks at the University of Maine's Centre for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, where it also keeps its broodstock.

Kingfish Maine harvests its first US-grown fish

Company has raised stock at university RAS facility as it prepares to build 8,500-tonnes-per-year land-based farm in Jonesport


Yellowtail farmer Kingfish Maine has harvested its first fish for commercial sale – before a brick has been laid for its planned 8,500-tonnes-per-year land-based recirculating aquaculture system facility in Jonesport.

The kingfish (Seriola lalandi) have been raised at the University of Maine’s Centre for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR), on Taunton Bay in Franklin, where Kingfish Maine – a subsidiary of Netherlands farmer The Kingfish Company - is keeping its broodstock.

CCAR is an industrial scale aquaculture research and development facility that offers hatchery services and serves as an aquaculture business incubator. Businesses can use the University’s permits to produce fish.

Broodstock and grow-out

“We’ve built out space at U Maine CCAR, mainly for housing broodstock, but we’ve done some grow-out there as well,” Kingfish Maine operations manager Megan Sorby explained to Fish Farming Expert yesterday.

“The harvest started today, and the total harvest will be somewhere around 8,000 pounds (3.63 tonnes). It’s a nice step forward now that our site in Jonesport is fully permitted. Starting to get fish out of the door has been one of the next milestones.

The facility was built for broodstock but is now being used for some grow-out as well. The system’s out-performed, which is a credit to our design engineering

Kingfish Maine operations
manager Megan Sorby

“The fish are from 2-3 kg, and result from a hatchery batch from March of last year. In the Netherlands our growth is anywhere from nine to 12 months depending on what size we’re harvesting.

“We’ve held on to these fish a little bit longer because the US market prefers a larger fish.

“The facility (at CCAR) was built for broodstock but is now being used for some grow-out as well. The system’s outperformed, which is a credit to our design engineering.”

Three-year build

Whether this is the only harvest Kingfish Maine produces at Franklin will depend on how quickly the company progresses with the farm at Jonesport, said Sorby, but the company will continue to use the CCAR facility for broodstock and for future research and development.

Kingfish Maine is waiting for the result of an appeal against permission for its Jonesport RAS before beginning work on the site. The appeal has been rejected once at a lower level, and Kingfish Maine hopes the issue will be resolved in its favour in the second half of 2023, perhaps as soon as June.

Separately, a Bill presented to Maine legislators that would have made it impossible to carry out any land-based fish farming in the state appears to no longer be a threat after being voted down at the committee stage, although the Maine Senate has yet to formally kill it.

“From start of construction, complete build out will take about three years, but we hope to build in such a way that we can start stocking the building within 18 months,” said Sorby, adding that fish would be harvested a year after that.