For the first time in almost 3 years the aquaculture team is harvesting fish from their offshore cage! The fish will be eaten in the Island School’s dining hall as a demonstration of a community-based aquaculture program that is focused on producing local food, while also reducing fishing pressure on wild fish stocks around South Eleuthera. We all ate cobia for breakfast on Thursday! All of the harvested fish carcasses will be used to make silage that will eventually be used to make tilapia and pig food. This is an attempt to produce as little “waste” as possible, and a way to utilize all of the nutrients that are lost after the fish is filleted as a way to produce more food.As you may remember, CEI outfitted the offshore cage with Predator-X netting that was donated by the materials company DSM, www.dsm.com, and the net production company Net-Systems, www.net-systems.com. We are happy to announce that this netting did survive shark predation attempts, showing minimal damage from any shark bites it did endure. The netting, in conjunction with adequate cage maintenance (such as removal of any dead fish and regular cleaning) is the answer to the aquaculture program’s major problem of fish escapement, and will lead to yearly cobia growouts and year-round harvest.
The next steps for the aquaculture team is to bring growing cobia in the lab so that the cage can be restocked by the end of the Spring. We will also be focusing on starting some smaller scale production cycles which include penshells and spiny lobsters. A big thanks goes out to everyone who has helped this entire process! We could not have done it without you!