Proper diet and daily feeding are key to raising healthy fish. Yet, in the open ocean, storms, high winds, and icy temperatures make regular feeding and observation of fish in the Gulf of Maine a substantial engineering challenge. As a result, developing remotely-operated systems for reliable feed delivery in an unpredictable environment has been a priority.
The first series of prototypes for remotely-operated feed buoys were based on a cylindrical spar-shaped design. We were able to monitor video and telemetry data streams from the buoy on 900 megahertz radio frequency systems. The system allowed us to monitor the fish, check the buoy’s position, and control and monitor feeding operations.
Working with OceanSpar — which received a grant from NOAA’s Small Business Innovative Research program-we are finalizing the development of a new automated feeder, capable of servicing multiple, commercial-size crops. The new feeder has a 20-ton payload and will be launched in 2007.