This free floating, untethered deep ocean fish habitat looks like a giant underwater hamster ball: Aquapods are giant, free range fish farms that float deep under water and provide a solution to the fact that the world’s seas could soon run out of fish.
On average, people eat four times as much fish now than they did in 1950 – and in 2015 global fish consumption hit a record high of 17kg (37 pounds) per person per year. This increasing demand for fish on our plate has lead to overfishing with no time for fish populations to recover.
We have turned to fish farming – or aquaculture – as a strategy to meet the growing demand for seafood. Aquaculture is exactly what it sounds like – farming fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae and other organisms – under controlled conditions. Combined with agriculture, it improves livelihoods, as well as alleviating food shortages for small-scale farmers. However, as current methods of fish farming often involve crowded, tethered pens with poor water circulation, disease is spread and huge amounts of environmental stress are put on of surrounding waterways.
Steve Page at Ocean Farm Technologies, based in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, has come up with a solution – a unique containment for marine aquaculture, tethered offshore. The Aquapod is inspired by naturally occurring schools of fish and the ‘geodesic dome’, North American architect Buckminster Fuller’s spherical shell structures.
Its unique ability to change location with the ocean’s current creates less stress on surrounding environments and reduces overcrowding as the fish are free to move in the same way they would in the wild. The fact they are located at least a mile out at sea in deep water means the fish are as wild as they could possibly be, whilst still being farmed – a true free range fish.
Want to know more about aquaculture? In the sprawling high plains of the Free State province of South Africa, Conchita Milburn is playing a key part in freshwater aquaculture projects. As head of the Gariep Dam Hatchery, she shares knowledge on sustainable practices and supports emerging farmers. We talked to the aquaculture mentor about sustainable fish farming, being a woman in a fishy world – and why catfish are hardcore ► Aquawoman: Fishy FutureHero
Gaby is a wildlife documentary producer with broadcast credits on BBC, National Geographic, Discovery and PBS.
Steve Page, Inventor and President of Ocean Farm Technologies Inc.