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Open Ocean Aquaculture

Open Ocean Aqauculture

Beatrix Bay Sea Pen case study ooa

Open Ocean Aqauculture

With around two-thirds of the planet covered in ocean, are there better ways to use the sea to provide more food in a sustainable way for our growing population?

Worldwide demand for seafood is expected to increase substantially, and only sustainable aquaculture can meet the increasing demand. Open ocean aquaculture has huge potential for food production, particularly for a country like Aotearoa New Zealand surrounded by the sea but little in the way of sheltered coasts.

Growing fish in the ocean is difficult. It can be a wild place and a single storm has the potential to destroy an entire farm. In the wild, fish move to find conditions that suit them, be that changing seasons or moving away from extreme events such as marine heat waves. If we can mimic this mobility with our farming, we will not only be resilient to a rapidly changing climate, we can potentially keep fish at their best year round, greatly improving production efficiency, feed conversion and fish health.

Keeping an eye on the fish and the structure is difficult, even on a calm day. There’s also the challenge of supplying food to the fish, keeping the structures clean and intact, and harvesting the fish at maturity.

We’re putting the fish at the centre of our research and developing novel enclosures that support the needs of the fish and allow them to thrive. We’re designing systems that can be made mobile and highly adaptable to suit different fish species, and also survive the high energy waters that lay over the horizon.

But enclosures are only one of the innovation challenges we need to address. We’re also building other parts of the complex chain of technologies and knowledge needed to be able to produce a diverse range of fish species with the lightest environmental footprint possible. That includes breeding the right fish to survive in an aquaculture system, creating new nutritious foods and mechanisms to feed the fish, finding ways to ensure fish are healthy and monitor their performance, and how to keep structures clean.

Our research is primarily funded through the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Fund Reimagining Aquaculture programme and our Ngā Pou Rangahau Growing Futures Ngā Tai Hōhonu Open Ocean Aquaculture MBIE Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

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