VE project seeks victory on two fronts
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.