Maine company grows California yellowtail at UMaine’s Aquaculture Center
We’re a land based aquaculture company. We’re growing warm-water, salt-water species indoors, and we’re selling them to distributors in Maine, Boston, and San Francisco.
The primary fish that we’re growing is called California yellowtail. They’re in very high demand for primarily Asian restaurants, sushi and sashimi use. Also, very good for broiling, grilling, sautéing as well.
Then we’re experimenting with a second fish called black sea bass. That’s very popular for baking and broiling, a plate-sized fish. Both of these fish are heavily over-harvested in the ocean, and demand often exceeds supply, so we’re trying to fill that supply with a fresh Maine-grown product.
The idea was to use novel technology to minimize the waste production, and to make that fish more sustainable through the use of feeds that don’t require anchovies, herring, and menhaden, and ocean species of that sort.
Our critical partner throughout has been the University of Maine, Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research here in Franklin. We’ve been doing work here for more than three years now, several different species.
Another critical partner was Coastal Enterprises, and MTI, the Maine Technology Institute. They were involved with this early on giving us some small grants to help us develop an initial business plan to look at a design of a facility. Among the three of them, they’ve been absolutely fantastic partners. Really helped us take our business forward.
It’s a tremendous advantage to be able to come in here and say I want to run a small experiment with a few fish. See what we learn, and then talk about going to the next stage. The fish in here range in size right now from about one pound to three pounds, and we start harvesting around two pounds all the way up to six or seven pounds.
Maine has a tremendous history in the seafood fisheries industry and our hope is that we can rebuild some of that base here, and create some jobs here in Maine.