Belfast-based seafood distributor and processor Maine Maritime Products is seeking $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to expand its operations into the processing of lobster meat and other seafood more efficiently.

Maine Maritime Products owner and operator George Delaney explained to city councilors during a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 29, that the funding –– which the company would match with $500,000 of its own financing –– would enable it to process seafood without having to ship it to Canada, where facilities use high-pressure processors similar to what Delaney is looking to purchase.

Delaney explained that the equipment the company is looking to purchase uses 40,000 pounds per square inch of pressure to separate the meat from the shell of a lobster. Not only is the process more efficient, Delaney said, the end result is a higher yield of meat.

As an added benefit, Delaney said, once the meat is removed from the shells, it is exposed to another 80,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. Exposing the meat to high pressure virtually eliminates all of the bacteria, which results in a longer shelf life for the product without requiring pasteurization, Delaney said.

City Manager Joseph Slocum questioned Delaney about how the company receives product, and Delaney explained that it primarily relies on trucking to get the seafood product. Delaney said Maine Maritime Products has three trucks that pick up product and four trucks that deliver.

“Belfast is a pretty good hub,” Delaney said. “It’s not hard to get to.”

According to the company’s website, Maine Maritime Products distributes haddock, cod, salmon, soft-shell clams, hard-shell clams, clam strips, minced clams, scallops, live lobsters, shrimp, oysters, crab meat and mussels.

Following Delaney’s explanation of what the funding would be used for, City Councilor Mike Hurley asked Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge to explain the process for applying for the grant.

Kittredge said the letter of intent is due Friday, Feb. 1, and if accepted, a full application would be submitted in late March.

Community Development Block Grants require the recipient to create one job per $30,000 in funding received and to make at least 51 percent of the jobs available to persons from low- and moderate-income households.

Delaney said the company employs five full-time people and about 12 to 16 part-time employees. If the company receives the grant funding, Delaney said, it would create about 20 additional jobs.

Delaney said the company would have to hire mor than 100 employees to hand-pick the meat from lobsters and shellfish to produce as much product as the high-pressure processor.

Councilors approved the request to submit a letter of intent 4-0, with Councilor Roger Lee absent.

In other business:

Councilors approved a request from Slocum to transfer $3,300 from the cable TV capital reserve to replace a broken switcher, a new monitor and an automatic microphone mixer to help with television audio.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at