The Future of Ocean Farming: Remote/CONTROL
Our ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s
surface, but currently accounts for only 2% of human food. With limited land and
freshwater available for farming, people are looking to other sustainable
solutions to feed a growing world population.
What if we could farm the open ocean, the home of ferocious storms and giant waves?
To do that it would take some serious high-tech. This robot, which crawls along
the netting of a fish pen to clean it, looks a bit like a space rover. So it
shouldn’t be surprising that Forever Oceans, a start-up company based out of
Kona Hawai’i, has a background in space tech. Outer space is a terribly
unforgiving environment. You’ve got to survive phenomenally tough conditions
but really is not that different from what we do in the oceans: that you’re in
saltwater; you’re in a very destructive environment. We’ve got to build
everything to survive the worst conditions. We just completed a number of different simulations so the results look really good. As the wave comes
through we can zoom in here and we can see there’s a bit of a stress
concentration that happens right in the front of the cage. We use a comprehensive modeling and simulation tool to test and verify all the components that go into a
Forever Oceans cage. This is similar to what you would see with a jet fighter or
Space Shuttle. We use real-world storm conditions so what you’re looking at
here is similar to hurricane Iniki that Hawai’i saw a number of years ago
here, rolled directly over a wave buoy. We incorporate that data into the models.
The tool not only allows us to verify our current designs but allows us to
quickly develop new open ocean gauge technology for storms of the future. This
simulation shows a Forever Oceans fish cage placed in deep offshore water. These cages can hold 700 tons of fish, like these Amberjack. These high-tech
fish pens can be submerged under the water during big storms to avoid
destructive waves. Shorelines can be a very popular place, so sighting offshore
helps these farms avoid shipping lanes and crowded areas. Since they’re so far
offshore the systems can be fully automated and controllable from land.
Inside the container behind me you see one of our command and control units.
It’s essentially an entire data center inside. It controls every aspect of the
husbandry from the feeding to the cleaning to the removal of fish. We’re good. Turning on water now. Water is coming on. Looks good. Perfect. It’s transformative when we talk about being able to take out your cell phone and control robots that are 20 miles
offshore in the middle of the ocean. That’s what this system gives us the
power to do and that changes how we can conduct aquaculture. On the robotics and
manipulators the high-end sensors all those equip us to operate in a better
location in nature in deeper waters, and operate in a manner that allows
conservationists like myself as well as a general public, to sleep well at night
knowing you’re being fed by the ocean in a sustainable manner. In fact the U.S.
exclusive economic zone spans 13,000 miles of coastline, but contains 3.4
million square nautical miles of ocean– larger than the combined land area of
all 50 states. So there is indeed plenty of open ocean available for
remote-controlled fish farms to grow food while also keeping our ocean
healthy and clean.