A Dutch company has reportedly selected the Washington County town of Jonesport for a multimillion-dollar, land-based aquaculture facility to grow yellowtail, a type of fish beloved by chefs and sushi aficionados.

Kingfish Zeeland settled on the historic fishing community roughly 20 miles from Machias after exploring other potential sites along the Maine coast, according to reports in local and seafood industry media. Kingfish Zeeland’s envisioned yellowtail facility is at least the fourth major land-based aquaculture operation proposed in recent years in Maine, which is experiencing a surge in “farming” for fish, shellfish and other marine products.

Company representatives were expected to discuss their plans Wednesday night during a special town meeting in Jonesport. The company did not respond to a request for additional information Wednesday, and a member of the Jonesport Board of Selectmen said town officials are waiting for Wednesday’s meeting before commenting.

“We are anxious to hear their presentation,” Selectman William Milliken said.

Based in the Netherlands province of Zeeland, Kingfish Zeeland has been rearing what they refer to as “Dutch yellowtail” in a land-based facility for several years. Also known as “recirculating aquaculture systems,” the facilities raise fish in massive tanks or pools on land rather than in large pens in coastal waters or the open ocean.

Yellowtail generally refers to several species of tuna-like fish that have become enormously popular with chefs and consumers of sushi. The yellowtail kingfish produced by Kingfish Zeeland is the only yellowtail certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and the Best Aquaculture Practices as being sustainably produced, the company said.


“Sustainability and respect for our fish and the environment are key values at Kingfish Zeeland and form the basis for our design, operations and technology decisions,” the company’s website says. “We go to great effort and expense to ensure that our operations are safe and healthy for our customers, stress-free and humane for our fish, and have a minimum impact on the surrounding nature.”

The Machias Valley News Observer first reported last week that Kingfish Zeeland representatives planned to present their proposal to Jonesport residents on Wednesday. Several seafood industry news organizations also reported Wednesday that the company had chosen Jonesport for the facility.

This is the latest example of how Maine is poised to become a top destination for land-based aquaculture operations thanks to the state’s commercial fishing heritage, industry infrastructure and workforce. Additionally, aquaculture companies are drawn to Maine because of the relative close proximity to major seafood markets and restaurants in Boston, New York, Montreal and other cities.

The company Whole Oceans is moving forward with plans to build a large Atlantic salmon aquaculture facility on the site of the former Verso Paper mill in Bucksport. That project has received considerably less local opposition than Nordic Aquafarms’ proposal to build another, large-scale salmon farm on land in Belfast.

A third company, Aquabanq, hopes to build another salmon aquaculture facility in the middle of Maine’s North Woods in Millinocket. Meanwhile, the Maine Department of Marine Resources is processing a flood of permit requests for smaller-scale aquaculture – particularly oysters and other shellfish – all along the Maine coastline.

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