Aquaculture for all

Kingfish Maine gives high school students chance to test their RAS skills

Yellowtail Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) Tilapia / Cichlids +6 more

Kingfish Maine’s sponsored high school aquaculture programme has just begun its fourth year in Jonesport, while the company's second harvest of sustainable Dutch yellowtail is planned for later this year.

people standing around a fish tank
The Kingfish Company donated a small recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) to Jonesport Beals High School in 2020

© Kingfish Maine

“With the recent affirmation of our state-level permits by the Maine Superior Court, we are laser-focused on our vision for the Downeast region of Maine; providing economic development in partnership with the community of Jonesport,” said Tom Sorby, Kingfish Maine operations manager. “And there’s no better way to prepare the future workforce of Kingfish than introducing area students to the aquaculture industry and our technology.”

The Kingfish Company donated a small recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) to Jonesport Beals High School in 2020; helping students stock the system with tilapia and learn the process of growing and harvesting fish. Lead teacher Robin Monini has added an aquaponics component to the school-based RAS and has successfully landed additional grants to grow the programme.

“Our aquaculture/aquaponics programme provides real-life training for high school students who are interested in pursuing a future in aquaculture,” said Monini. “It’s a unique programme: the students grow the fish and learn the basic mechanics of RAS. They also have a chance to grow vegetables as part of the system. Most importantly, they see how their hard work and effort pays off.”

As the programme was launched, Sorby provided students with a primer on yellowtail from Kingfish Maine’s hatchery at the nearby Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR).

The dynamic duo

Tom and partner, Megan Sorby, have been leading the Kingfish Maine development since inception in 2019. Together, they have led the US project through the local, state and federal permitting phases. With all permits approved, Tom will continue to build broodstock numbers and complete small scale grow-out in preparation for the Jonesport development. Megan will now take an advisory role with Kingfish as she explores new initiatives outside The Kingfish Company.

From Kingfish Maine’s CCAR facility earlier this year, a limited release of Dutch Yellowtail from Maine of 8,000 pounds was distributed to and served at restaurants in Maine, Boston, DC and California. Kingfish is announcing another harvest scheduled in November and will be distributed to select restaurants in the US, as well as available to the residents of Jonesport.

“Our first harvest of Dutch yellowtail from Maine was well received by top chefs and restaurants across the country. We look forward to another successful harvest as we continue to prepare for our full production facility in Jonesport,” said Tom Sorby.

“The momentum in Maine is tremendous at this time,” said Vincent Erenst, CEO of The Kingfish Company. “The US operations team is focused on building our broodstock numbers and preparing pre-design for the facility in Jonesport. We credit not only our strong team in Maine but the supportive community of Jonesport, which will benefit from the economic development which we will provide to the region.”

Kingfish Maine is part of The Kingfish Company, which currently produces 1,500 tonnes of high quality, high value Dutch yellowtail at its Kingfish Zeeland facility in the Netherlands. Expansion is currently underway and capacity in the Netherlands will reach 3,500 tonnes in 2024. Once the Jonesport Maine facility is fully operational, Kingfish Maine is projected to produce 8,500 tonnes of yellowtail.

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