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Farming for the future

Ship & Boat International eNews: March/April 2022

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Aquaculture is a booming business; approximately half of all seafood consumed globally is now farmed offshore, and a swelling world population is sure to push up this volume. One company specialising in this field is US venture capital group Pacific6 Enterprises, which is currently working alongside the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, under the banner of Pacific Ocean AquaFarms (POA), to establish the first sustainable aquaculture farm in US Pacific federal waters.

 

That particular farm will be situated just over 6km off the coast of Southern California, and aims to generate 5,000 metric tonnes of yellowfish – equating to 11 million servings – per annum. POA’s hope is that the project will inspire similar farms in these waters, which the group deems essential if tomorrow’s population is to be fed.

 

“By 2050, the global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion,” POA states. “The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that food production will need to increase by 70%...terrestrial agriculture alone cannot support this increased demand, and wild fisheries are reaching their limit.” The impact of climate change on wild fish populations also makes sustainable farming necessary, POA adds.

 

Additionally, Pacific6 has established a subsidiary, Pacific Mariculture, which recently announced its intention to set up a similar mussel farm on the San Pedro Shelf. To serve this latter shellfish farm, Pacific6 has ordered a multipurpose aquaculture vessel, set to feature a parallel battery hybrid propulsion system. The vessel has been designed by Kirk Mullen, of Australasian naval architecture firm Oceantech, and is currently under construction at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) in Washington.

 

Caterpillar Marine will supply the newbuild with a single CAT C18 ACERT diesel engine, rated 599kW at 2,100rpm, and with 961kWh of battery capacity – the latter enabling the boat to operate solely on electric power, cutting exhaust emissions to zero, while conducting farming operations and leaving/entering port. The engine manufacturer says: “[We] will also provide the complete integration of the hybrid propulsion system, including motor/generator unit, inverter and system supervisory controls, effectively reducing the number of installed diesel engines from two to one.”

 

The hybrid vessel will measure 23.95m x 7.5m and have the capacity for 50tonnes of product. Oceantech says: “When charged with renewable energy, the carbon footprint will be reduced by over 50% when compared to a similar conventional vessel. The work deck will also feature New Zealand-designed and -built deck equipment.” NBBB plans to launch the vessel in early 2024.