The aquaculture technology of The Velella Mariculture Project has been named one of Time magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2012” list. The $750,000 innovation—a drifting fish farm—claims to be a “farming method that has near zero environmental impact.”
The project raises a tropical yellowtail fish, the kampachi fish, in a single, unanchored, submersible net pen tethered to a manned sailing vessel drifting three to 75 miles off the Big Island of Hawaii, according to the the company press release. The kampachi fish consumed a sustainable commercial diet filled with soy and other agricultural proteins in lieu of fishmeal. The fish were not exposed to antibiotics, hormones or pesticides in the seven-month trial.
What’s the end result? Time Magazine writes that “in 2011 it tested 20-ft. (6 m) pens 3 to 75 miles (5 to 120 km) off Hawaii. After six months, they yielded 10,000 lb. (4,500 kg) of kampachi, which grew twice as fast as expected.”
According to Neil Anthony Sims, co-CEO of Kampachi Farms: “The fish thrived in the research net pen far from shore, with phenomenal growth rates and superb fish health, and without any negative impact on water quality, the ocean floor, wild fish or marine mammals.”
For full disclosure, the Velella project received funding from the Illinois soybean checkoff program.
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