The Big Island based aquaculture company Kona Blue Water Farms is currently trying to obtain a permit to raise amberjack to harvest size using an underwater cage which drifts freely around the Big Island of Hawaii in a counter-current. This cage will float freely around 5 to 150 miles offshore in federal waters, attached to bouys, lights, GPS transmitters, a counterweight below the cage, and tethered to an 80 foot ship connected with a feeding tube.
This new proposed method of farming is said to improve the current method of near-shore cage drawbacks like high concentrations of fish waste, and uneaten food which can harm near-shore ecosystems. It is predicted that the new free floating cages would improve water circulation, reduce fish disease and disperse the waste from farming better.
However criticism has come from a Food and Water Watch which is a Washington, D.C. based organization that this type of farming falls under the fisheries service (part of NOAA), and allowing a permit will lead to commercial fish farming in federal waters. “NOAA is putting ocean fish farming cages in the same category as rods and reels and fishing nets, so the agency can claim it has authority to issue a permit for this new ‘gear type,’” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. However, the president of Kona Blue (Neil Sims) is saying that “This is not a commercial permit… This is a research permit” and will be limited to a one-time trial.
Personally I feel that this is definitely a method of farming which should be looked into, and tests on pollution and environmental impacts from this type of small trials should be done before shooting down the idea.