All aquaculture market projections uncover a dramatic supply-demand imbalance in the next two to three decades. Focusing on fin fish supply specifically uncovers that output level is close to a saturation point for traditional areas with sheltered aquaculture. Currently the response to this situation is the fact that fish farming is growing out of sheltered, near-shore areas and moved to locations further offshore together with several new land-based RAS/flow-through plants being established around the world. A number of innovative solutions is being tried out in offshore fish farming in the process of industrialization. The objective is a higher output volume of fin fish combined with improved fish welfare. As the world’s population grows, the options for producing enough healthy, sustainable food are becoming limited. Several interesting solutions for efficient, large-scaled fish farming in offshore/exposed environment are in the pipeline.
There are several advantages applying the solution with advanced, high volume fish farming installations to increase supply of marine proteins. Better fish welfare, less conflicts with interests in the ocean space as well as possibility to scale up output volume without compromising environmental sustainability - to mention a few.
The numerous consepts planned and implemented may be split into three main categories: Open trusswork with traditional net or grating, semi-closed units and at last closed aquaculture installation. The first may be split into two where most are operating at the ocean surface while an increasing number of designs have the option of submerged position to avoid splash-zone issues at rough sea states. These have all a number of advantages and weaknesses that have to be considered and evaluated. The various solutions ability to perform depends on a long list of aspects. The essential parameters to be taken into consideration assessing performance are among other things:
Other similar issues such as hygiene and cleaning as well as feed handling & -control could also be included discussing the total operational performance of a high-volume fish farming installation.
Photo Salmar Ocean
To address and mitigate issues mentioned above there is a significant potential to utilize competence from traditional offshore- and maritime industry to support operators of exposed fish farming units in design and tuning operational modes for efficient production. The industry is currently very much exploring possibilities and collecting experience from the various concepts being planned and put in operations. This learning journey is an important phase in the development of offshore fish farming to become a significant contributor in feeding future generations with sustainable and healthy marine proteins.