Hawaiian mariculture firm Kampachi Farms' Velella Project is now raising fish in open-ocean “Aquapods” with virtually no negative environmental effects.
Fish farming in estuaries and protected waters may seem to offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional deep-sea fishing, but it still causes effluent accumulation and interactions with wild stocks that can disrupt the surrounding environment. That’s according to Hawaiian mariculture firm Kampachi Farms, whose Velella Project is now raising fish in open-ocean “Aquapods” with virtually no negative environmental effects. In an effort launched last year, marine biologists at Kampachi Farms have been raising hatchery-reared, native Kampachi fish in a 22-foot Aquapod tethered to a manned sailing vessel in the deep open ocean near the Big Island of Hawaii. The fish are fed a sustainable diet that has replaced significant amounts of fishmeal and fish oil with soy and other sustainable agricultural proteins, the firm says. The setup drifts 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. Marine biologists on board monitor and feed the fish while a GPS system tracks the vessel’s drift and transmits data to land-based research headquarters; the tender vessel’s engines are used minimally to correct course. “We’re very excited about the results so far,” said Neil Anthony Sims, the company’s co-CEO. “The fish are healthy, growing well and are where they’re meant to be – in the ocean. This technology has the potential to revolutionize fish farming, making it the most impact-free form of food production on the planet.” The video below explains the effort in more detail: With support from a wide range of organizations including NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Illinois Soybean Association, Lockheed-Martin, the International Copper Association and Ocean Farm Technologies, the Velella Project has made its environmental monitoring data available for public access on its site. Sustainability-minded entrepreneurs around the globe: one to get involved in?