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HAWAI\'I, USA - Lockheed Martin's mobile fish pen deployed off Big Island of Hawaii

Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions has deployed a new type of fish pen off the Big Island's coast that could revolutionize fish farming and aquaculture. The so-called mobile fish pen has been deployed successfully off Kailua-Kona through a partnership with Kampachi Farms

March 25, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii —Normally associated with fighter jets and smart bombs, Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions has deployed a new type of fish pen off the Big Island's coast that could revolutionize fish farming and aquaculture.

The so-called mobile fish pen has been deployed successfully off Kailua-Kona through a partnership with Kampachi Farms, LLC, a research firm that's been in existence since 2011. Kampachi co-founder Neil Sims said ocean eddies located to the west of the Big Island provide near ideal conditions to test the Lockheed Martin fish pen.

"As the ocean currents move from east to west, they set up these eddies on the backside of the Big Island," Sims told KITV4. "These eddies will persist for months at a time before they start to attenuate to the west, and our conception was to have a drifting net pen constrained within these eddies so they didn't drift across the ocean."

An initial test trial of the mobile fish pen called the Velella Beta Project proved extremely successful. Since the pen is constantly on the move, there are no concerns about diminishing water quality, and at a depth of 2-3 miles, there's little risk the pen will interfere with commercial and recreational boats.

About 2,000 Kampachi fingerlings placed inside the mobile pen for the Velella Beta Project grew to four pounds in just four months and produced a product that some compare to blue fin tuna.

"The performance of the fish in the Velella trial was phenomenal and the fish health, the growth performance (and) the survival rate of the fish was far better than we've seen previously," said Sims.

Now, Lockheed Martin and Kampachi Farms have teamed up for yet another test trial. Called the Velella Gamma Project, a mobile fish pen has been secured to a single-point mooring system in 6,000 feet of water, but with enough line that the pen still drifts naturally.

"So, it was 6 nautical miles out offshore from Keahou, and it swung around in about a 5-mile diameter circle," said Sims. "It still captured that same performance of open-ocean aquaculture for the Kampachi."

Kampachi Farms is now preparing a third test off the Kailua-Kona coast called the Velella Delta Trial. The project is currently awaiting approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before being initiated later this year.

[Source: KITV. Read article. Watch video report]

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