Most people associate homegrown harvest with crops, but there’s a place in Franklin doing it with fish.
The idea comes from growing demand, plus a lack of ocean supply.
Erica Stapleton shows us how it’s done, with the quality of fish in mind.
“When we come in, first thing in the morning, we have to make sure the fish have the optimal water and feed that they need to grow to market size as quickly as we can get them to.”
It’s a new model for farming fish – all on land, at the University of Maine Center for Aquaculture Research.
And it runs year-round.
Acadia Harvest Inc. is growing black sea bass and California yellow-tail.
The way to do that is to mimic the ocean environment, even one-up it, so the fish can flourish.
“There are a lot of things here that we do better than what they get in the wild,” explains Dr. Kevin Neves, product and operations manager at Acadia Harvest. “For example, the fish here never get hungry. They’re always being fed. That’s something a fish in the wild doesn’t get, so fish here grow faster than they would in the wild.”
And when they’re ready – it’s time to harvest.
“We take the fish we put them into the purge tank for 36 hours,” Neves explains. “Harvest morning we drain the water from that tank, we take the fish out we put them in what’s called a CO-2 ice flurry, where we take sea water and chip-shaved ice and put the fish in.”
Typical fish size is about two pounds and here they harvest about 80 fish per week.
The biggest purchaser? Sushi restaurants.
“They’re very fussy about the taste the quality the texture the fat content,” explains Ed Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Acadia Harvest. “So, giving that fish the best possible growing conditions with optimum food is extremely important for that quality.”
Right now they’re working with a batch of 5,000 – the next batch is going to be double that.
Eventually, Robinson hopes to have a facility that will support as many as 200 thousand fish a year, about 1 million pounds.
Plus, the model is sustainable.
They’re recycling waste from the fish, using it to grow other species.
“I think the story of a local maine grown fish is also attractive to people and we’d like to bring investment and jobs back in to Maine and help build a serious business,” Robinson adds.