The projoect also aims to bring well-paying marine-related employment to the town to encourage young people to come to Harpswell.
The Center says tha expansion of off-shore aquaculture in Maine is beset by numerous environmental and regulatory limitations. These include exposure to weather damage, concerns over pollution, competing usage, conflicts with existing fisheries, and logistical and biological siting constraints.
Globally, commercial aquaculture is moving on-land, led by advanced recirculating aquaculture systems, referred to as RAS.
The proposal consists of three components: 1) on-land commercial seafood production, 2) education, and 3) research.
The commercial seafood production component of our proposal is based on these advanced technology:
- On-land Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, referred to as RAS.
- Enhanced Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, or ERAS that use worms to reduce the waste discharge
- Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture, or IMTA, for the first time in a commercial RAS facility, an advancement of ERAS that uses algae and filter-feeding shellfish, in addition to worms, to also manage dissolved wastes resulting in a no waste aquaculture strategy that essentially eliminates the waste discharge.
Recirculating aquaculture and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture are energy-demanding systems, and this project will explore and incorporate as many alternative energy sources as are practically possible including wind, solar, and tidal power.
RAS and IMTA systems will undoubtedly one day be routine sources of our seafood, but today they remain innovative forms of seafood production and consequently are matters of great interest and offer wonderful opportunities for education. As such, Harpswell Oceanic Center proposes a Visitor Center to maximize public involvement in the research and development of these technologies. The Visitor Center will include interactive, marine science exhibits, aquaria and bio-secure access to the innovative IMTA production unit. Furthermore, this will provide unique opportunities for high school, vocational and elementary school students to learn about our marine resources, the challenges we face in responsibly managing our traditional fisheries, and the opportunities for sustainable seafood production offered by RAS and IMTA.
With Recirculating Aquaculture Systems and Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture today at the forefront of seafood production, the future offers enormous opportunities for research, development and growth. Harpswell Oceanic Center has, therefore, designated a portion of its proposed lease for research and development and looks forward to hosting those Maine academic institutions that will find it convenient and economical to take advantage of the waterfront site and its commercially-funded infrastructure, especially the large-scale sea water system.