Deep-Sea Aquaculture Begins

 Near-shore fish-growing aquaculture (fish farms) has been a growing industry for some years, but the industry has problems.  There have been buildups of pollution from feed, fish wastes, and chemicals.  A more immediate expensive problem for operators is that dense populations of cultured fish in polluted waters often fall prey to parasites such as sea lice. 

One way to reduce these problems is to move fish-farm operations from the shallow near-shore waters out to the deep sea.  An additional clean-water benefit would be derived from moving steadily to different waters as done by a moving ship. A Chinese enterprise is doing just those things.

The world’s first giant floating fish farm (the “Guoxin 1”) sailed from the eastern port city of Qingdao in China on May 20, 2022 to begin its sea trials. The ship holds 15 fish-culturing tanks, each tank bigger than two standard swimming pools.  The ship is expected to produce up to 3,700 tons (3,400 metric tons) of fish per year.

The vessel is 820 feet (250 meters) long and 147 feet (45 meters) wide, with a displacement of 130,000 tons (118,000 metric tons. It will now head to the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea to test harvesting of different types of fish in waters of different temperatures.

If operations are successful, the plan is to eventually operate fifty such ships.  This would demonstrate deep-sea aquaculture. 

The next logical step would be moving just the fish rather than moving entire tanker-size ships.  A large ship holding position could access more clean water by pumping cold water from the depths.  Such water would be used as cooling water for a thermal electric power generating plant.  The “waste heat” produced could be used to adjust the aquaculture temperature to optimal temperatures for the fish species being cultured. 

At the same time, a fixed site for fish culturing could also be surrounded by a web of cables for culturing sea plants.  The plants would be crucial for three functions: (1) providing additional salable products; (2) consuming the waste streams from fish operations to grow plants rather than being pollution; (3) drawing down global-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help mitigate global warming.

This could be the start of the agricultural revolution at sea, comparable to the agricultural revolution on land that made civilization possible—only this revolution will be bigger.

Loukia Papadopoulos, “World’s first giant floating ocean farm to deliver 3,700 tons of fish per year,” Interesting Engineering, May 25, 2022.  (accessed May 27, 2022)

Vince McDonagh, “China’s giant floating fish farm starts trials,” Fish Farmer, Feb. 7, 2022.


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