Open Water Commercial Fish Farms

Reader Contribution by Ruth Domingo
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Since the subject was recently approached in the comment section of a separate article, perhaps it is a good idea to introduce the proposed concepts for the deepwater or open water commercial fishing industries as proposed in a more sustainable fashion. If there is any real detriment to the implementation of these programs, they will be costly to build, though they will also provide a very real and beneficial long-term return … both financially and environmentally, in addition to the sociological advantage of continuing to provide a long-term benefit to the people of the earth. As such, while it is interesting to theorize, it should be noted that to even begin the studies for such a venture would be more costly than beneficial given the limited capacity of the groups currently involved. However, such studies and ultimately, the construction of commercial deepwater fish farms will be necessary if there is to be any ability to continue feeding the global population.

There is little doubt that commercial fishing under the current methods in place, is not sustainable in any sense of the word. Add in the domestic commercial fishing practices in many third world and developing nations where high explosives are a common tool of the trade, and the damage to our oceans and seas is greatly increased. Factor in the destroyed ecological systems, many of which involve coral reefs and that will take literally thousands of years (or more) to grow back and the picture starts to get clearer … albeit not a very pretty picture. Add in the decimation of commercially viable aquatic species and … well, there is just nothing about the current practices that are sustainable in any real sense. At the end of the day, something must be done before it is too late.

Unfortunately, there are also detriments to attempting to farm commercially viable, deepwater fish in land based fish farms. Water pressures, temperature variations and a host of other factors increase both the costs and challenges, not to mention the effective capacities of these operations. Many shellfish and smaller commercial fish can be successfully grown on land, but this will do little to satisfy the need for tuna, swordfish and a host of other larger, more desirable and profitable species that seemingly need the open oceans to survive. As such, the prospect of deepwater or open water commercial fish farms or fisheries will be necessary in order to maintain the levels of productivity necessary for the continued growth and expansion of the human race.

Deepwater Fishery Facility Designs

There are already some existing companies with rather radical designs for open water and even deep water vessels and even stations. At present, the current designs are such that much of the vessel remains above the water level, though a substantial portion also remains below the water. Given the engineering expertise, it is not overly difficult to imagine a deepwater vessel that will be largely submerged, with little more than lighthouses or towers protruding above the surface of the water. These vessels would ideally be located anywhere from one hundred and fifty feet to three hundred and fifty feet below the surface of the oceans.

Such a configuration would allow for the deepwater commercial fisheries to be located largely underwater, safely out of the way of storms, shipping and even the occasional rogue wave. While there is still underwater turbulence that must be dealt with, this is generally more minimal in nature and can be sufficiently counteracted by the use of retro-thrusters or water jets strategically placed around the individual compounds. Escape pods would likely have to be pressurized, though such a configuration would ostensibly at least, allow for the relatively safe and complete evacuation of such stations in short order should it become necessary.

Deepwater Fish Containment Areas

Carbon fiber is a key component of the construction for many portions of these deepwater facilities. It is also a viable material to be used to build containment fields or areas for the fish being farmed and raised. A series of facilities will be strategically located, with carbon fiber fencing built between them, extending from the facility itself down to the bottom of the ocean as necessary. Depending on the species, a similar carbon fiber overlay can be used in conjunction with hydraulics, to provide a retractable surface net that can extend from the level of the facilities to the ocean surface … subject to passing traffic and the requirements of the fish being farmed at any given location.

This configuration will allow for a limited amount of isolation to allow for the introduction of singular or at least a limited number of species to be raised and harvested from any individual farm, while at the same time allowing for the fish to live in a natural, expanded environment. The carbon fiber is not by any stretch impervious to damage or destruction, and repairs would have to be made, but there is no reason that such a facility could not fully encompass tens or even hundreds of square miles of open waters. Tensile strength, compressive strength and other factors are easily and mathematically quantified allowing for the design teams to determine how many of the portable facilities would be necessary in exact measure.

Costs and Restrictions

In the initial phases, these projects will be overly expensive and require long-term investors with a similar vision for a sustainable future. Some will claim that government is the only viable solution for the operation of such facilities, though history may paint something of a different picture. Ideally, these facilities would be owned by the “Incorporated Foundations” as structured, in order that the proceeds could be returned to supplement the infrastructural and social needs of the people, in addition to providing for the ability to expand the sustainable developments on a more global scale.

The cost of literally billions of dollars may seem rather exorbitant merely for the sake of having seafood options at dinner time. However, the cost of doing nothing in terms of environmental, sociological and even economic factors is far too great to even briefly consider.

As always, please leave any of your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions in the comment section below so that they can be addressed individually, and perhaps even used for consideration in future articles. None of this work would be possible without you, the reader, and as such, your thoughts and considerations are the most important aspect of any articles published herein.

Ruth Tandaan Sto Domingo has worked with numerous NGOs, governments and Indigenous communities in Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia, the Philippines and Vanuatu to implement sustainable solutions. She is the co-author of Whole System Sustainable Development. Ruth enjoys “hyper-realistic” cross stitch and is working with her husband to build a largely off-grid and self-sufficient home where she will raise livestock and garden both flowers and food. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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