Kampachi net pen

Kampachi Farms on Wednesday announced the harvest of kampachi from the Velella Research Project, marking the first successful harvest of fish in U.S. federal waters.

This harvest completes the grow-out cycle of shashimi-grade kampachi from an unanchored drifter pen that’s been riding eddies in the open ocean three to 75 miles off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island since last summer when the project was unveiled to the public. Kampachi Farms is the first company to attain a one-year federal permit to farm fish in the United States’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which extends from three to 200 miles offshore.

The company said the harvest far exceeded its expectations. The kampachi was raised in a single unanchored, submersible net pen tethered to a manned sailing vessel in water up to 12,000 feet deep. The fish thrived and had phenomenal growth rates and health, without any negative impact on water quality, the ocean floor, wild fish or marine mammals. The net pen withstood extreme conditions, including wind gusts exceeding 40 knots and swells topping 20 feet.

The kampachi were fed a sustainable commercial diet that replaced a significant amount of fishmeal and fish oil with soy and other alternative agricultural proteins. No antibiotics, hormones or pesticides were used throughout the seven-month trial.

The company reported that the kampachi reached an average of 5.6 pounds in six months, resulting in a first harvest three months ahead of schedule. The final food conversion ratio was 1.6:1.

“It makes perfect sense to raise fish in the ocean, where they belong. This was a healthy, low-stress environment for the fish, and we think that this allowed them to channel their energy into growing faster,” said Neil Sims, co-CEO of Kampachi Farms. “The success of the Velella research demonstrates that we can grow fish in the open ocean with no negative impact on pristine ocean ecosystem. We must now apply ourselves to responsibly scale up this industry to meet the growing global demand for high-quality seafood.”

The next phase of the research will test a single-point mooring 6 miles offshore in water 6,000 feet deep, where the pen can move freely in currents and still be within easy range of shore for supply delivery and crew rotation.

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