Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 5:50 am | Fair 64º


Nuvigreen Project: Deep-Sea Fish Farming the Wave of the Future

The relatively new technique is proving to be a win-win-win — for business, the environment and fish

[Noozhawk’s Note from Green Hawk Interactive Producer Sarah Ettman-Sterner: The Nuvigreen Project is a mentorship experience that helps bring to light a new source of environmental reporting, while supplying the community with up-to-date eco-news from fresh, youthful perspectives. Nuvigreen serves as terra firma to support and encourage high school and college students to pursue green careers, especially green journalism. Now, inspired young environmentalists have an outlet — a place to be seen, heard and published, and get feedback. It is a cooperative effort supported by Noozhawk and Santa Barbara educational institutions including Dos Pueblos High School and UCSB.]

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When someone says the word “farm,” our minds instantly take us to the little red barn in the country with the cute white-faced cow out front, a horse in the back pasture and chickens running around freely, all maintained by one friendly man and his family. This farmer, in addition to raising these animals, is growing crops in his field in order to make a living. But when someone says “fish farming,” many people don’t know what to think, let alone how to define it.

As the consumers of these aquatic animals, it only makes sense to know exactly where the fish are coming from, whether it’s from the open water or a near-shore/onshore fish farm, an operation also known as “aquaculture,” where fish are raised in order to be collected and then dispersed throughout the world for people to eat.

Like almost anything in this world these days, there seems to be a better, more environmentally friendlier way to do this, and that is called deep-sea fish farming, a technique that is not frequent but is gaining recognition because of its success.

Deep-sea aquaculture is the fish farming technique where complex cages of at least 80 feet tall and 75 to 100 feet wide are submerged hundreds of feet beneath the surface out in the open ocean either suspended by buoys or anchored to the ocean floor, miles from the nearest shore.

This method has shown to be much more efficient not only for the environment, but for the fish. With having the natural underwater currents go through the cages, fecal matter can’t build up and lead to bacteria, which absorbs the dissolved oxygen in the surrounding water, causing for a harmful environment for the fish and other sea creatures.

Slide show on deep-sea aquaculture

According to a National Public Radio report by Chris Arnold, a Hawaii-based fish farming company called Kona Blue even went as far as to say that it couldn’t see any nutrient changes in the water. As well as benefits for the surrounding waters, the fish also benefit, as they are allowed to swim with thousands of other fish, in larger spaces than traditional methods, allowing the fish a more natural feeling closer to how it would be in the wild.

According to an NPR report, a traditional onshore fish farm with 200,000 fish produces nearly the same amount of fecal matter as the raw sewage of 40,000 to 60,000 people. Shino Yusa of The Associated Press found that without this problematic factor occurring in the deep sea farms, fish populations stay alive longer and grow healthier, as well as save other depleted wild populations, such as the blue fin tuna, which recently has had strict fishing restrictions put into place regarding their capture.

Video on deep-sea aquaculture

Although only a few companies, such as Kona Blue, have invested in this expensive new business, the few that have are proven to be successful economically and environmentally, shedding a light onto a new pathway to the future of commercial fish farming.

Want to see more pictures and know more information on deep-sea aquacultures around the world? Click here, here or here.

Dos Pueblos High School students Kate Cordeniz, Danny Rowell, Chrissi Williams and Tracy Baker are participants of the Nuvigreen Project, a student-produced reporting series in Noozhawk’s Green Hawk section.

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