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Effort to Raise Juvenile Halibut On Land Successful

FRANKLIN - University of Maine researchers have successfully hatched and reared juvenile Atlantic halibut. Now, as Maines wild fisheries are further depleted and restricted, the scientists and their business partner are ready to raise the darkish brown flatfish to market size and test whether land-based halibut farming is a viable seafood enterprise.

Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Operations Manager Nick Brown (right) and James Cameron, a University of Maine graduate student, strip eggs from a female halibut to spawn new halibut fry.
Maine Halibut Farms President Alan Spear helps grade thousands of juvenile halibut being moved to recirculated-seawater tanks at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin.

Last week, UMaine staff and Maine Halibut Farms President Alan Spear were busily grading and moving thousands of juvenile halibut from the UMaine Department of Industrial Cooperation’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research’s nursery to recirculated-seawater tanks where the fish will be grown to 2 to 10 pounds.

Some halibut already were marketed last year to notable Maine restaurants such as Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro in Ellsworth and Fore Street restaurant in Portland.

Nick Brown, operations manager of the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR), and staff were also closely monitoring and collecting eggs from Lana, Wanda, Daisy, Neissa, Sylvia, Violet and other spawning female halibuts housed in 21-foot-round brood tanks fabricated locally by Tom St. Claire of Sullivan Plastic Products. The breeding season runs from mid-February through May.

“We only expected to rear a few thousand fish, but these systems were so successful, we wound up with 25,000 fish last year. This bodes very well for the future because our building was designed to rear 100,000 juveniles at expected survival rates,” Brown related last Friday.

He ran a successful halibut farm in Digby, Nova Scotia, before being hired six years ago to manage the applied research facility on Taunton Bay.

“We have shown we can produce the fish and we are now building the grow-out systems,” he said.

Source: The Ellsworth American

the Fish Site Editor

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