American Aquaculture in Review | What Tools Aid in Regulating the Industry
Aquaculture America 2017 brought Deep Trekker’s team to the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas. Here we were able to showcase how our underwater drones can improve aquaculture inspections by providing an immediate response tool for monitoring nets, mooring lines and fish health.
Aquaculture America was an ideal venue for Deep Trekker to learn more about the aquaculture industry. In the United States, this industry is currently set to expand with recent legislation from NOAA.
Aquaculture in the USA lags far behind current industry leaders such as Norway and Chile. Although the USA coastlines are vast, the low production of species such as salmon results in over 90 percent of fish that Americans consume being imported from other countries.
The current state:
Finfish (food fish) production currently accounts for 36% of aquaculture sales in the USA. Catfish accounts for 60% of that market segment. Mollusks is the second largest type of aquaculture in the USA. Oyster farms account for 55% of that market segment. The third largest type of farm is crustaceans. Saltwater shrimp accounted for just over half of those crustacean sales in 2013.
When looking specifically at finfish production, catfish cultivated in ponds is the primary aquaculture type. Followed by other tank and lake based production.
Underwater drones and submersible cameras are useful tools to use in large tank operations as well as in pond or lake aquaculture farms. At any point when a diver may be required to enter the water, or when a decision to drain tanks must be made, a Deep Trekker ROV can enter the water and provide instant eyes as to what is happening. Visual inspections can assist in determining the scope of work required prior to hiring a diver or unnecessarily draining tanks.
Changes are Coming
Until 2016, aquaculture sites were not permitted in Federal waters. Federal waters begin three nautical miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and nine nautical miles offshore in Texas and the west coast of Florida, and then extend out 200 miles.
State waters allowed aquaculture to be conducted. Federal waters will provide a substantial opportunity for salmon, oysters, clams, mussels, and shrimp to be economically farmed in a sustainable way.
“While this framework is the first of its kind in federal waters, the states already support many successful and thriving aquaculture operations in their waters,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Allowing this type of seafood production will not only reduce U.S. dependency on imports, but also provide a domestic source of sustainable fish protein and create jobs.”
The daunting logistics of implementing and operating these offshore farms in America has been noted by some critics. However, globally such operations have already been successfully put into place. Although it may take time to establish an intensive aquaculture presence in the USA, domestic initiatives have the potential to bring the USA onto the global stage of offshore aquaculture production.
Donna Lanzetta, CEO of Manna Fish Farms, heads one such company looking to take advantage of these new regulations. Lanzetta aims to open the first finfish farm in U.S. federal waters. The plan is to farm around 2,000 metric tons of striped bass in submersible pods, 14 nautical miles off the east coast of Long Island, New York. Lanzetta also plans to introduce a multi-trophic system, producing shellfish, seaweed and macro-algae alongside the fish.
Onshore and offshore aquaculture require periodic inspections. Unlike other types of farming, for a fish farmer – all of their livestock is out of sight and difficulties monitor. With Deep Trekker underwater drones, site managers now have an instant way to check-in on their farm, monitor fish stock health and maintain proper inspections of surrounding infrastructure. Deep Trekker has been fortunate to work closely with aquaculture professionals since the beginning of our company.
Interested in learning more about the industry? Read through some of our industry articles or contact us today.