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Israeli Innovation Takes Farming to New Depths

ISRAEL - An Israeli company believes it has come up with an ingenious way of avoiding the environmental impacts of aquaculture, whilst mirroring the superior taste of fish caught out at sea.

So if deep-sea fishing and fish farming are out, what's left? Subflex's user friendly, single-point mooring, submersible, flexible net cage system, Shapira asked Israel 21C. "With our system, you can raise almost any kind of saltwater fish away from shore, without having to worry about weather, waves, predators, or pollution."

According to Israel 21C, the patented Subflex system is basically a flexible series of large cages - using ropes made out of space-age materials - moored to a single point (on the sea bed or an accompanying vessel), that is designed to move with the waves.

Unlike moored competing systems made of more rigid materials, the Subflex system is allowed to "roam" from its mooring point in any direction necessary, reducing stress on the cages and enabling natural diffusion of fish waste into the open sea. And, because of its modular nature, new cages can easily be added to a Subflex system to expand capacity when necessary.

One of the biggest problems with deploying a deepwater fish farm is the potential for inclement - even wild - weather that buffets the cages about, with the fish bumping into and damaging each other, causing wear and tear on the cages from the heavy waves, and, with enough stress, possibly causing the whole thing could come apart.

But the Subflex system has that covered, too, says Shapira. "When bad weather arrives, the crew can submerge the whole setup as far as necessary - up to 200 meters - thus keeping the fish out of reach of the heavy waves and winds." Close to the surface, Shapira says, the Subflex system has proven to be stable in surf of up to four meters - "but if necessary, the option exists to drop the cages, and raise them back up after the storm passes."

And while humans and fish are different in many ways, they seem to share one common characteristic: Just like people are healthier when they get lots of fresh air, saltwater fish are healthier - and tastier - when they get lots of open sea.

"We've set up a couple of projects here in Israel and overseas, the largest one being for an Israeli company called Royal Fish, which raises sea bream near Ashdod. By the end of this year they will have sold 2,000 tons of fish, in only their second year of working with our system."

Ellen Hardy

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