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Mobile fish pen named a Top 25 Invention

21 Feb 2013
The mobile fish pen has been recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012

The mobile fish pen has been recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012

Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Kampachi Farms of Hawaii and the Illinois Soybean Association to develop an innovative new system that could produce a sea change in fish farming.

Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Kampachi Farms of Hawaii and the Illinois Soybean Association to develop an innovative new system that could produce a sea change in fish farming.

The new system, recognised 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 12,000ft 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.

“This truly revolutionary approach to aquaculture is a remarkable example of the breadth of missions and projects to which Lockheed Martin technology can be applied,” said Gerry Fasano, president of Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions-Defense. “We took technologies and software developed for defense-related applications and used them to create a sustainable, environmentally sound method of farming, which will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on our oceans and wildlife.”

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 labour costs low and improves safety.

“The drifter cage allows us to marry revolutionary technologies to grow fish with literally no footprint on the oceans,” said Neil Anthony Sims, co-founder and chief executive officer of Kampachi Farms, LLC. “We’re combining this technology with more responsible feeds, more sustainable proteins and oils, to grow this industry, to allow us to feed 9 billion people.”

Using the mobile cage method, aquafarms could produce large volumes of high quality seafood with reduced costs, potentially reducing the US$10 billion annual seafood trade deficit. Around the world, the new technology could enable countries without ample farmland or fresh water to farm fish more effectively, thereby allowing countries to open a new industry and achieve food security, along with the benefits of job creation.

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The mobile fish pen has been recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012

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