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Can Robotic Cages Save Fish Farming?

fish farm

Fish populations are dwindling rapidly due to widespread overfishing, and it’s not likely to stop any time soon–the UN thinks that world seafood demand will grow 40% by 2030. And your beloved sushi restaurant might not exist for much longer if we don’t take drastic measures, since 70% of all fisheries are being overexploited or flat out depleted. One such measure is the release of enormous motorized, remote-controlled fish cages that float in the ocean.

Fish cages today are usually found in shallow waters near the shore, but having so many fish crammed together rapidly spreads disease. In comparison, deep-sea cages allow the fish to capture natural food from the ocean while also swimming in freshly-circulated water. As you might expect, healthy, happy fish produce tastier meals on our plates.

Cliff Goudey, director of MIT’s Offshore Aquaculture Engineering Center, has built a prototype deep-sea cage using a standard Aquapod fish cage outfitted with two 8-foot propellers steered by controllers on a tethered boat. The Aquapod cage is made of triangular panels covered in steel netting. Goudey’s cage is currently powered by a small boat that carries a generator, but in the future it could use a power source–perhaps even solar in nature–placed in an attached buoy.

Goudey isn’t the only fish farming visionary around. Scott Lindell’s Aquadome has trained 4,200 black sea bass to gather when a dinner bell is sounded. Even when the dome is opened, the fish still return inside at the sound of the bell.

[Via National Geographic]AS