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Open Sea Aquaculture: The future of fish farming

by 5m Editor
20 December 2006, at 12:00am

US - It is 6:30 in the morning on the Caribbean Sea, and Brian O'Hanlon is heading out to his farm. As he gets ready to go to work, it becomes clear that O'Hanlon is not a traditional farmer. O'Hanlon's gear include a wet suit and tanks. His farm sits far below the ocean surface. It is a fish farm. And what he is pioneering undersea may be nothing less than the farm of the future.


This fish -- with its distinct black racing stripe -- is a cobia. The cobia is native to the warm water of the tropics, but unfamiliar to fish buyers. The fish was selected for breeding because of its mild flavor, flakey texture and remarkably rapid growth: it can gain10 pounds in a year. (Jeffrey Kofman/ABC News)

"They don't really understand it at first," says O'Hanlon, as he explains people's reaction when they discover that he runs a fish farm. "You have to explain, 'Well, we have cages out in the ocean,' and they think we're catching fish. We say, 'No we're producing fish in captivity.'"

Fish Farming
So far, O'Hanlon's farm consists of three massive underwater cages anchored to the ocean floor. They look like they came straight from outer space. Unzip the entry way, slip inside, and you really do enter another world. There are 15,000 fish inside, and once they mature they will go straight to market, and ultimately, to someone's dinner plate.

The Fastest-Growing Food Industry in the World
O'Hanlon, 27, was born to sell fish. His father and grandfather were importers at New York City's fabled Fulton Street Fish Market.

When O'Hanlon was just 16 years old, he decided to enter the business by building a fish hatchery in the basement of the family home in New York. He imported red snapper brood stock from the Gulf of Mexico and tried to spawn them in captivity.

The experiment was going well, until an electrical fire in the hatchery burnt the family house down.

As the ocean's fish stocks dwindle, and consumer appetite grows, fish farms are becoming the fastest-growing food industry in the world. But until now they have had a bad reputation: producing inferior quality fish, and damaging the environment as they do it. O'Hanlon's system is designed to be different.

Source: ABC News

5m Editor