VE project seeks vic­tory on two fronts

Fish Farmer - - Making Waves -

KAM­PACHI Farms de­scribed theVelella Ep­silon project at a sem­i­nar held dur­ing the World Aqua­cul­ture So­ci­ety con­fer­ence in New Or­leans, in March.

TheVelella Ep­silon project is an ex­ten­sion of pre­vi­ous projects (Velella Beta-test andVelella Gamma project), which demon­strated small-scale off­shore marine fish cul­ture in the waters off Kona, Hawaii.

TheVelella Ep­silon (VE) project will adapt these tech­nolo­gies to Gulf of Mex­ico (GOM) waters, while pur­su­ing two si­mul­ta­ne­ous ef­forts: (a) per­mit­ting and de­ploy­ment of a re­search scale, demon­stra­tion net pen in fed­eral waters, and (b) nav­i­gat­ing the com­mer­cial per­mit­ting process to ob­tain a com­mer­cial off­shore aqua­cul­ture per­mit in the GOM, while doc­u­ment­ing this ef­fort in a Man­ual for Aqua­cul­ture Per­mit­ting Path­way (MAPP).

TheVE project fo­cuses on a small, pi­lot scale (sin­gle net pen) aqua­cul­ture sys­tem where up to 20,000 al­maco jack (kam­pachi) fin­ger­lings would be reared for ap­prox­i­mately 12 months in fed­eral waters, ap­prox­i­mately 40 miles west-south­west of Sara­sota, Florida.

These fish will be landed in Florida, mar­keted, and sold to state and fed­er­ally li­censed deal­ers.

TheVE project will lay the ground­work for wider ac­cep­tance of com­mer­cial aqua­cul­ture in the GOM re­gion by:

1. Serv­ing as a plat­form for the pro­mo­tion of ra­tio­nal aqua­cul­ture poli­cies and de­mys­ti­fi­ca­tion of the in­dus­try, by pro­vid­ing a work­ing net pen ex­am­ple to politi­cians, con­stituents, jour­nal­ists, and other in­flu­encers of pol­icy or pub­lic per­cep­tions, as well as the lo­cal com­mu­nity;

2. In­creas­ing pub­lic aware­ness of, and re­cep­tiv­ity to­wards, off­shore aqua­cul­ture and the need to cul­ture more seafood in US waters, by pro­vid­ing pub­lic tours of the off­shore op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing (pos­si­bly) snorkellin­g in­side the net pen, and fee fish­ing;

3.Act­ing as a demon­stra­tion plat­form for data col­lec­tion of water qual­ity, po­ten­tial ben­thic im­pacts, and marine mam­mal and fish stock in­ter­ac­tions re­sult­ing from off­shore aqua­cul­ture in the GOM; and

4. Pro­vid­ing lo­cal recre­ational, char­ter, and com­mer­cial fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties with ev­i­dence of the ben­e­fits of aqua­cul­ture, through the Fish Ag­gre­ga­tion De­vice (FAD) ef­fects of the project.

The ‘project per­mit­ting’ stage will record the first year’s ex­pe­ri­ences and achieve­ments of fed­eral and state multi-agency col­lab­o­ra­tion and co­or­di­na­tion; recre­ational and com­mer­cial fish­ing and seafood stake­holder part­ner­ships; and the multi-tiered, it­er­a­tive sit­ing anal­y­sis process that lead to the fi­nal net pen site lo­ca­tion for theVE project.

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