There’s been a closely watched experiment floating and bobbing in the eddies off the Big Island of Hawaii. Since July, an unanchored pen stocked with 2,000 hatchery-born fish known as kampachi (related to the more familiar yellowtail) has been drifting in the open ocean, tended by marine biologists from the aquaculture company Kampachi Farms. Led by industry pioneer Neil Sims, it’s been dubbed the Velella Project, and it is the first and most important attempt at commercializing offshore aquaculture in the U.S.
Most of today’s marine fish farming takes place close to shore, but many in the industry believe that in order to expand, they need to look further out to the open ocean. And they’re not alone. Aquaculturists in countries like Norway, Ireland, Canada, and Chile are also beginning to explore offshore options, though the technology to accomplish this remains in its infancy.