By Jamie Larson
Published: Friday, November 6, 2009 2:14 AM EST
An old fashioned bucket brigade was put to an interesting use Thursday, as thousands of summer flounder were moved hand over hand, in ten gallon buckets, from the back of a truck into the incubation tanks at the Local Ocean indoor aquaculture fish farm in Greenport.
The young business, which took in its first delivery of 45,000 gilt head sea breams in July, recently received permits to raise flounder and three other species of fish at its facility from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
While support from the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, and the Department of Agriculture and Markets helped get Local Ocean their permits faster, the flounder couldn’t wait.
The dark colored flounder were bred at the Great Bay Hatchery in New Hampshire and grew larger and larger while the permits waited for DEC approval. Now around four to five inches, the flounder have to be delivered in two shipments, the first arriving Thursday. Workers scooped the diamond shaped flat fish out of tanks in the truck with a net, dropped them in buckets and ran them inside to waiting tanks.
Local Ocean Partner Raymond Mizrahi said getting their complex, one-of-a-kind business up and running so quickly is a testament to the support of community and local politicians and organizations.
“Bringing in summer flounder shows the versatility of our system,” Mizrahi said. “This marks the start of what will be a population of seven to ten species in the next year. “
With its new permits Local Ocean is now able to raise and farm sushi grade flounder, black and white sea bass and yellow tail tuna in its enclosed loop filter system. The technology in use at the facility, in an old Kaz warehouse, is only in operation in two locations in the world — Greenport, and the business’ first location in Israel.
Water goes through patented filters which break down waste and excessive nutrients before the water is pumped back into the large blue tanks.
“The big news is rather than just prohibiting things DEC worked to move this through faster,” Hudson Valley Agribusiness Executive Director Todd Erling said. “It will be ground breaking to establish these permits in this area for the first time.”
Local Ocean will raise 40,000 flounder for market and plans to receive its first batch of sea bass in early December. The types of fish being raised at Local Ocean were specifically selected for their desirability in nearby markets and there are plans to ship fish live to some locations, increasing their value by as much as 30 percent.
The closed system filtration pools keep the fish free of toxins like mercury, and makes consumers less reliant on depleted wild fish populations.
To reach reporter Jamie Larson, call 518-828-1616, ext. 2269,or e-mail email@example.com.