Scientists looking at the problem of overfishing have come up with a bizarre solution – giant robotic cages that would roam the oceans farming fish for human consumption.
National Geographic magazine has reported that engineers and scientists in some of the world’s top institutions are working on designs for the autonomous fish farms. Remote-controlled prototypes have already been built.
Experts argue that this method of fish farming would produce more healthy and sustainable fish stocks at a time of great environmental concern – the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization recently warned that 70 per cent of all the worlds’ fisheries are finding it extremely hard to replenish themselves at current catch rates.
Concerns over depleted natural fish stocks have meant that fish farming is increasingly seen as an alternative. A standard fish farm comprises a series of cages in shallow, calm coastal waters, but these are often susceptible to disease and poor hygiene.
This is why the concept of ‘smart’ cages allowed to roam autonomously in deeper waters are being researched by institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Offshore Aquaculture Engineering Center (OAEC).
The OAEC’s director Cliff Goudey is making self-propelled cages which can be remotely-controlled by operators on a boat. He hopes that these automated cages could usher in a new era of fish farming.
“Why don’t we just go with the flow and behave more like the way a large school of fish behaves?” he asked the magazine. “I think most people would agree that would have a far less negative impact on the environment. I think the idea of mobile operations will be a natural evolution.”
Biological news posted by Daniel Coysh on Thursday, August 20, 2009