Fish farm has eye on controversial East Marion site


An aquaculture company that promises sustainable, traceable fish farming has its sights set on the former oyster factory property at the end of Shipyard Lane in East Marion.

Aqquua, a self-described “first of its kind” fully transparent fish farm, has offices in New York City and Thailand. It is currently developing facilities in Miami and Thailand and has announced on its website that it has identified the 18-acre North Fork parcel for its next location.

Officials from Aqquua did not respond to requests for comment from The Suffolk Times, but a few sparse details appear on a page of its website featuring a photo of the abandoned factory.

“We have identified a location in Long Island, New York, for our next state of the art aquaculture facility which will produce 200-500 tons of the highest quality, most traceable food ever to come to market,” the website states.

Reached by telephone last week at her New York City office, Dr. Kazuko Tatsumura Hillyer, owner of the bayfront property, said she has not sold the land but is currently considering a partnership, the details of which she could not discuss.

“Something is in the works,” she said.

Dr. Hillyer had previously proposed a 27-suite health spa with 114 guest rooms and two private restaurants on the parcel, which she purchased in 1999.

When the Shizen Hotel Wellness Center and Spa, also referred to as the Oki-Do project, was introduced in 2003, it encountered heavy opposition from the surrounding community, which soon led to the formation of the East Marion Community Association. When contacted this week, EMCA president Anne Murray said she hadn’t heard of the latest plans for the property.

“We’re going to keep an eye on these developments to make sure that whatever happens on the site does not have a negative impact on the East Marion community,” she said after discussing what little information had been made public with her membership.

A draft environmental impact statement on the Oki-Do project was deemed inadequate by the Southold Town Planning Board in 2008, but the site plan was reintroduced in 2014. It was rejected by the Planning Board in April and Dr. Hillyer has not submitted a new site plan for the proposal.

In September, John Bredemeyer, president of the Southold Town Board of Trustees, notified Dr. Hillyer’s attorney, Patricia Moore of Southold, that the Trustees were likely to recommend a positive SEQRA declaration for the property, a more stringent environmental review process. That was due to environmental soil test data recently compiled by Dr. Hillyer’s designated scientists, which the town deemed insufficient.

Supervisor Scott Russell and town planning director Heather Lanza both said they have not been notified of any new plans for the site, which is zoned Marine II, allowing for aquaculture and other industrial uses.

According to its website, Aqquua is focused on commercial grow-out farms that use the latest traceability and temperature monitoring technologies. In Thailand, the company is farming grouper; North American operations will focus on hirame (similar to fluke), tuna and mahi-mahi, according to its website.

“Our wholesalers, retailers, and consumers will benefit from the information we can share on our tags including records on when the fish was harvested and where, information about the specific breed of fish, its proper handling and even suggestions on its preparation in the kitchen,” the company states on its website.

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Photo: A commercial fish farming company announced plans to expand its operation to the former oyster factory property in East Marion. (Credit: Grant Parpan)