Fish farms have their proponents and their critics. But whether you're of the view that they provide an important source of protein or you think that fish farms breed diseases, there is one fact that's not under dispute: they have to be moved around every so often. That is because conventional fish farms are set up in sheltered waters but have to be moved once disease accumulates. When that happens, the cages are relocated using massive and carbon spewing towboats which haul the cages from one site to its next location.
Off the shores of Puerto Rico, a test project is underway by researchers with MIT. Scientists with the university's Sea Grant's Offshore Aquaculture Engineering Center are testing a different kind of fish cage: one that can propel itself and not require the use of a massive energy-intensive operation to drag it through the water.
The spherical fish cage, developed by Ocean Farm Technologies, Inc. of Searsmont, Maine, is fully submerged and able to move itself using slow-moving propellers. The 62-foot diameter mesh sphere bobs along in the ocean with electric powered propellers. Initial tests don't show great results. While the cage maneuvers well, momentum and direction were unpredictable. But the future could show improvement if researchers can successfully outfit these self-propelled fish farms with solar cells or wave motion apparatuses to get them moving without the use of grid electricity
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