CFER Project Title: The Ocean Drifter -- Fish Farming on a Global Scale
PI: Clifford Goudey, MIT Sea Grant

The Ocean Drifter - Fish Farming on a Global Scale
Project Overview
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CFER is developing a novel approach to open-ocean aquaculture. The Ocean Drifter is a self-propelled fish farming system that can operate in the open ocean and survive the severest marine weather conditions. The concept pictured below is a derivative of the Sea Station® cage developed by Ocean Spar Technologies; however, this version is much larger and has its own propulsion and maneuvering system (see Figures 1 and 2). Model tests at DTMB have demonstrated the seaworthiness of the concept and characterized the power requirements. The current focus is on optimizing operation in ocean currents.
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Figure 1: A 64,000 cu. m. Ocean Drifter.   Figure 2: Central spar.  

Though seemingly novel, the concept of mobile fish farming is not new. Past concepts have typically involved the use of obsolete ship hulls or purpose-built barges. Because of the capital- and energy-intensive nature of such approaches, they have not prospered. In addition, in spite of their size, such surface platforms and their swimming cargos are very vulnerable to extreme weather.

By contrast, the Ocean Drifter can be economical from a capital-cost/growing volume standpoint, and, because its primary mode of transport is by ocean currents, it is energy efficient by comparison. Also, because of the depth of the Ocean Drifter containment volume and the small waterplane area of the central spar, the system is extremely stable and nearly immune to storms. An early report on Ocean Drifter model tests can be found at: link.

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