Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Tuna and the Oceansphere

Tuna are one of the ocean's most magnificent fish. Some of the larger species, such as the Bluefin, Yellowfin, and Pacific Bigeye are the top predators within their ecosystem. Yet they are also the one of the most overfished stocks in the sea, and action is needed to stop irreversible harm from being done to the species. Enter the Oceansphere. Invented by the Haiwaiian company, Hawaii Oceanic Technology, the Oceansphere is essentially a huge sphere suspended in the Pacific where the species will be raised naturally. According to National Geographic:
Each 162-foot-wide (49-meter-wide) aluminum-and-Kevlar cage would be completely untethered to the ocean floor and self-powered by a system that converts the ocean's thermal energy to electricity. The spheres lie about 65 feet below the ocean surface, and the company says they are designed so as not to be a hazard to whales, sharks, or other marine life.
State regulators in Hawaii have just approved the companies plan to build and operate three of the Oceanspheres two miles off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island. If these three test models are successful, the State Board of Land and Resources has granted the company the right to construct nine more. If, or when, all twelve Oceanspheres are operational, the fish farms will produce approximately 6,000 tons of Pacific Bigeye Tuna a year, which equals the amount of Tuna lawfully harvested per year by the Japanese.

As there are consistently reports that many countries, regularly overfish the lawfully regulated amount, the Oceansphere could be a responsible way to farm a vital food source for the world. It may also set a precedent for innovative ways to utilize the natural environment as incubator for production rather than altering the envirnoment for production processes.

Seen via NatGeo News Watch. Images via Hawaii Oceanic Technology.

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