But raising fish in ponds and pens, while contributing greatly to the availability of affordable seafood, has given rise to a range of environmental concerns. Inland and shore-based farms, when poorly sited, can compromise water quality, and compete for space with recreation, shipping, commercial fishing and other uses.
The new system, recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012, is a mobile fish pen, or drifting fish cage, which is hooked to a barge that drifts with the ocean eddies. The system circles in the current much like a satellite is held by gravity in a controlled orbit around the Earth. The mobile system, which is constantly moving over the ocean’s surface, in waters over 12,000 ft deep, solves the potential problems of impacts on water quality or impacts on the seafloor, and appears to improve fish health and growth.
As the cage drifts, the highly automated system controls feeding from the barge and cleaning by a remote operating vehicle inside the cage. The system operates by integrating satellite communications, remote sensing data feeds, robotics, motor controls, and Lockheed Martin’s command and control and situational awareness software.
The beta-trial of the mobile fish pen used fingerlings raised from wild broodstock in land-based hatcheries, so there was no genetic difference between farmed and wild stocks. The beta-trial also used of a highly efficient soy-based feed, allowing fish to reach harvest size faster (five months) with improved feed conversion for the high-value, sashimi-grade fish species under culture (Kampachi). In addition, automation keeps labor costs low and improves safety.
SOURCE Lockheed Martin