Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hope for the Future of Aquaculture Just as Fish Farms Are All at Sea With Compound Problems

New Design AI Assisted Seagoing Trimaran Wins Approval in Principle
Shipping News Feature

CHILE – UK – WORLDWIDE – The dreams of previous decades that aquaculture would feed the world of the future have been severely tarnished with the problems now associated with fish farms. Problems with pile up of waste, invasive parasites such as fish lice which go on to infect the indigenous marine species, can be seen from the Scottish Lochs to the Norwegian Fjords, not helped by huge fish escapes, some underhand dealings and illegal fish exchanges by some operators.

Those fish escapes have caused irreversible DNA changes in the native seagoing species whilst the build-up of effluent under the cages poisons the waters and effectively kills all life on the seabed. Now however comes a positive note with the Approval in Principle (AiP) of a new-concept offshore fish-farming vessel.

The fish-farming vessel Ocean Ark has been developed by Ocean Arks Tech of Chile (OATECH) working in conjunction with UK partner Ocean Sovereign, in accordance with ship classification society RINA Rules plus Marpol, Solas and IMO regulations. The vessel delivers a new approach to fish farming and its backers say it is set to revolutionise the industry by dramatically improving fish health, crew comfort and the industry’s image.

The ocean may offer the only opportunity for fish-farming to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population. Deploying the Ocean Ark away from marine heatwaves, algae blooms and storms, three more of aquaculture’s Achilles’ heels, could produce higher quality protein and increase world fish production without increasing pressures on fish stocks and coastal habitats. RINA Marine Principal Engineer for North West Europe, Patrizio Di Francesco said:

“Sustainability is a core strategic pillar at RINA, but this is not just about reducing carbon emissions. A sustainable food production chain is also needed to supply an increasing global demand for nutrition. We believe aquaculture in the open sea is one solution that will help for the future.”

The fish-farming vessel is a self-propelled, AI-assisted, low emissions trimaran 170 metres long and 64 metres wide. Artificial intelligence and self-cleaning fish cages of copper help secure fish health and welfare. While finance is secured for several units, memoranda of understanding (MOU’s) to build the Ocean Arks are signed with a range of world-leading shipyards that include China Merchants Industry holdings, Tersan and CIMC Raffles.

With its capacity of 4,000 tonnes of biomass, this disruptive technology is designed to allow for the low-density production of healthier, higher-quality fish at lower costs than the offshore, land-based and coastal aquaculture systems now available. The Ocean Ark can operate near Asian, US and EU consumer markets for a major drop in transport emissions. Di Francesco concluded:

“This is an unusual vessel. Its AiP presents a milestone for both the fish farming industry and for the classification of ships with an unconventional design. It is an innovative approach to the sustainable harvesting of fish to help ensure food security and sovereignty and one which may revolutionise fish farming for the future.”