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Maine State proposed bill zeroes in on RAS

March 8, 2023  By  Nestor Arellano

Renderings of the Kingfish Maine RAS facility in Jonesport, Maine (Photo: Kingfish Maine)

A proposed legislation before Maine State lawmakers could stop land-based aquaculture operations in the state.

Legislative Document (LD) 586, also called “An Act to Protect Maine Fisheries from the Effects of Industrial Recirculating Aquaculture Operations” proposed by Sen. Pinny Beebe-Center, seeks to curtail potential pollutants and carbon emission, restrict feed ingredients and prevent “adverse impacts” on native fisheries and seafood production.

The proposed bill calls on the Department of Marine Resources of Maine to “ensure that industrial recirculating aquaculture operations do not adversely impact native lobster, shellfish, seaweed or finfish operations.”


Provisions of the bill include:

  • Industrial recirculating aquaculture operations established on or after Jan. 1, 2024 may not contribute to the degradation of water quality or air quality or increase overall carbon emissions;
  • Feed sources for industrial recirculating aquaculture 11 operations must be free of wild marine organisms, pollutants and contaminants as specified by the department by rule, including but not limited to wild finfish, wild krill, genetically 13 modified ingredients, polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury;
  • Industrial recirculating aquaculture operations may not adversely impact native lobster, shellfish, seaweed or finfish operations.

If adopted, the proposed bill will impact recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) companies that have set their sights on Maine. A surge in seafood demand has attracted RAS operators such as Nordic Aquafarms, Whole Oceans, The Kingfish Company, and Aquabanq in recent years.

According to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the state is “well positioned, based on its geographic location, to become a global leader in land-based aquaculture. This is good news for our state, our economy and our environment” and has “the potential to attract a combined investment of more than US$450 million in land-based aquaculture projects… Maine is targeting land-based aquaculture operations that utilize recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS).”

Kingfish Maine, the Kingfish Company’s Maine operations, has obtained licenses from the Department of Environmental Protection to construct and operate a land-based recirculating aquaculture system facility growing yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) on an approximately 94-acre parcel of land in Jonesport, Maine.

Kingfish Maine is going through its approval stages for a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Jonesport.

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