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USA - Land-based aquaculture startup prepares to scale up in Maine

Acadia Harvest wins $1 million in grants and a \'seal of approval\' for its plan to raise the prized yellowtail commercially at an indoor fish farm in Maine.

April 30, 2015


Ed Robinson looks down at an empty 360,000-gallon steel and concrete tank and imagines it filled with water and teeming with California yellowtail, a subtropical fish prized in sushi bars for its smooth, buttery texture and mild flavor.

β€œImagine 30,000 to 40,000 yellowtail in here. Wow!” said Robinson, CEO and chairman of Acadia Harvest, a startup company that is developing a land-based, indoor fish farm to raise black sea bass and California yellowtail.

If successful, the company will have the only commercial yellowtail fish farm in the United States. This month it made big strides toward that goal by winning two grants – $657,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop alternative technology to help the company build a commercial-scale operation with zero fish waste, and $367,500 from the Maine Technology Institute to complete work on that big tank.

The company plans to use the tank – located at the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in the Hancock County town of Frankin – to raise juvenile yellowtail. It would then truck the fish about 20 minutes down the road to the former Corea Navy base in Gouldsboro, where it plans to build dozens of tanks to hold 200,000 adult fish on a 6.8-acre site it has an option to buy.

The company is currently raising sea bass and yellowtail in smaller tanks at the University of Maine facility.

Robinson said the business needs to spend an additional $8 million to be commercial on a large scale. He is seeking loans and investors who would own a piece of the company. Robinson hopes to be in full production in a couple of years and employ about 15 people. Ed Robinson looks down at an empty 360,000-gallon steel and concrete tank and imagines it filled with water and teeming with California yellowtail, a subtropical fish prized in sushi bars for its smooth, buttery texture and mild flavor.

β€œImagine 30,000 to 40,000 yellowtail in here. Wow!” said Robinson, CEO and chairman of Acadia Harvest, a startup company that is developing a land-based, indoor fish farm to raise black sea bass and California yellowtail.

If successful, the company will have the only commercial yellowtail fish farm in the United States. This month it made big strides toward that goal by winning two grants – $657,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop alternative technology to help the company build a commercial-scale operation with zero fish waste, and $367,500 from the Maine Technology Institute to complete work on that big tank.

The company plans to use the tank – located at the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in the Hancock County town of Frankin – to raise juvenile yellowtail. It would then truck the fish about 20 minutes down the road to the former Corea Navy base in Gouldsboro, where it plans to build dozens of tanks to hold 200,000 adult fish on a 6.8-acre site it has an option to buy.

The company is currently raising sea bass and yellowtail in smaller tanks at the University of Maine facility.

Robinson said the business needs to spend an additional $8 million to be commercial on a large scale. He is seeking loans and investors who would own a piece of the company. Robinson hopes to be in full production in a couple of years and employ about 15 people.

[Source: Tom Bell, Portland Press Herald. Read article]

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