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Velella Project To Revolutionise Aquaculture

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
15 September 2011, at 1:00am

HAWAII, US - The country's foremost pioneers of sustainable open ocean aquaculture, or mariculture, have recently revealed their latest research of cutting-edge technologies that will allow the sustainable farming of fish in their natural marine environment without affecting pristine ocean ecosystems.

Marine biologists at Kampachi Farms (formerly with Kona Blue Water Farms) are exploring new submersible Aquapod pen technology and an innovative mariculture system that drifts on open ocean currents.

Support for the project has come from a wide variety of stakeholders from science, technology, and sustainable agriculture, including NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Illinois Soybean Association, Lockheed-Martin, the International Copper Association and Ocean Farm Technologies.

"The Velella Research Project explores the potential of raising healthy fish in their natural environment with virtually no environmental impact on the underlying seafloor, surrounding water quality, or wild fish outside the Aquapod," said Neil Anthony Sims, Co-CEO of Kampachi Farms.

A video of the project can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPs-0LfCEq0.

One small Aquapod (22' in diameter), tethered to a manned sailing vessel, has been deployed in the deep open ocean near the Big Island of Hawaii. The array is drifting in eddies off the west coast of the Big Island, in Federal waters from three to more than 150 miles offshore and 12,000 feet deep. The tender vessel's engines are used minimally to correct course, as the array floats in constant movement on powerful ocean currents.

The Aquapod is stocked with hatchery-reared, native Kampachi, which are fed a sustainable diet that has replaced significant amounts of fishmeal and fish oil with soy and other sustainable agricultural proteins.

The sailing vessel has marine biologists on board to monitor and feed the fish, and maintain data logs. A GPS system tracks the vessel's drift and transmits data to land-based research headquarters.

"We're very excited about the results so far," said Mr Sims. "The fish are healthy, growing well and are where they're meant to be in the ocean. This technology has the potential to revolutionise fish farming, making it the most impact-free form of food production on the planet."

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