Roof collapse at aquaculture firm killed thousands of fish

HURLOCK — Constructed in Hurlock in the mid 2000’s, Waterland Fisheries Inc. is an indoor-aquaculture company that produces and sells live Tilapia wholesale. The physical plant is more than 45,000 square feet with an annual production capacity of more than one million pounds. According to its website, a recent expansion makes Waterland “the largest seafood producer in Maryland and a major producer in the nation.”
Last weekend calamity struck.

A portion of the company’s roof caved in and thousands of fish died. According to Hurlock Clerk/Treasurer John Avery, the section of roof that collapsed had been bowed in at the ridgeline for “a while” and was shored up in anticipation of a problem. The accident caused the aeration system to fail and Mr. Avery estimates thousands of fingerlings suffocated.

Mr. Avery said, “It’s surprising it didn’t happen during the hurricane. I had (in Hurlock) at least 13” of rain.
A call to Waterland’s owner Dr. Claud Anderson for comment was not returned before publication.
Two buildings house fish of varying sizes. Each tank, using re-circulating and filtered well water, is equivalent to one acre of water in an outside environment.

One building contains thirteen 12,000 gallon tanks that hold up to 70,000 fingerlings. The other building contains 38 tanks with larger fish that are reaching market size. By the time the fish reach market size, a tank holds up to 8,000 marketable fish that are fed sixteen times daily from an overhead food dispenser.