Offshore aquaculture, also known as open ocean aquaculture, is an emerging approach to mariculture or marine farming where fish farms are moved some distance offshore. The farms are positioned in deeper and less sheltered waters, where ocean currents are stronger than they are inshore.
While the ranching systerms currently used for tuna use open net cages at the surface of the sea ( as is done also in salmon farming ) , the offshore technology usually uses submersible cages. These large rigid cages- each one able to hold many sthoussands of fish – are anchored on the sea floor , but can move up and down the water column . They are attached to buoys on the surface which frequently contain a mechanism for feeding and storage for equipment. Similar technology is being used in waters near the Bahamas , China, the Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Spain. By submerging cages or shellfish culture systerms, wave effects are minimized and interfernce ith boating and shipping is reduced . Offshore farms can be made more efficient and safer if remote control is used , and technologies such as an 18-tonne buoy that feeds and monitors fish automatically over long periods are being developed .
An example of an industry moving offshore is the salmon farming industry, which uses circular cages with plastic support structures but without a walkway. As a result, cages are dependent on boats for maintenance. Fish feeding is facilitated by automatic cage-mounted machines with a capacity of up to 100 square meters of feed. Visits by farm staff are relatively infrequent, thereby lowering staff costs. Despite falling salmon prices, these technology shifts, amongst other things, have allowed the industry to cut operating costs whilst retain profitability.
Offshore aquaculture offers plenty of opportunities for the future. On the one hand, because the world’s population continues to grow explosively, land scarcity is increasing and solutions near the coast can pose problems. Next to that, it could also offer new opportunities due to the growing demand for sustainable food. A potential disadvantage of offshore aquaculture could be the higher costs. Nevertheless, the development of offshore aquaculture activities can provide a more balanced portfolio of suppliers to the offshore industry. For example, peaks and falls in the oil and gas market can be better absorbed. However, offshore aquaculture will be only successful if we are willong to pay more for food. Offshore aquaculture is still in its infancy and there are plenty of opportunities for parties to profile themselves in this segment. The first intiatives are evolving and the interest of offshore companies is increasing.