Maine Aquaculture Business Incubator

The Maine Aquaculture Business Incubator (MABI) was built in 2003-04 with funding from the Maine Technology institute (MTI).  The building is well insulated with a finished interior, and it has over 11,500 SF of business incubation space where companies can start new aquaculture ventures in Maine.  The MABI is well suited for long-term demonstration projects, and it is supplied with both fresh and salt water from our reservoirs and equipped with heating systems, generator back-up, and oxygen.  Companies using the MABI pay their way through rent, utility cost sharing, or royalties on revenue.  The MABI is jointly operated by CCAR, MTI, the Department of Industrial Cooperation, and the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center.

worm raceways under construction
Raceways under construction in MABI for Maine Sea Bait

The first tenant of the MABI was Maine Sea Bait, a company that grew marine polychaetes for bait and aquafeeds.  At peak operation Maine Sea Bait harvested seven tons of worms annually and employed seven people.  However, although seven tons sounds like a lot of worms,  the company projected it needed to raise 70 tons per year to be commercially successful, far beyond the scale possible in the MABI building.  Failing to secure the financing needed for such a large project, Maine Sea Bait vacated the MABI in 2009.

In the following two years the MABI was extensively remodeled, bearing in mind lessons learned from before.  Insulation was improved, a finished concrete floor was poured, structural metal was coated or replaced with non-corrosive materials, and the entire outer shell and roof were replaced. These and other improvements allowed for an entirely different sort of aquaculture venture. The current tenant of the MABI is Sea & Reef Aquaculture, a company that breeds and sells marine tropical ornamentals for the lucrative aquarium pet trade.  The company, which now has seven  employees, plans to eventually ship 16,000 specimens of over twenty marine reef fish species and other organisms per month.

Aquaculture business incubation facility
Construction of facilities for breeding tropical reef fish in the MABI