Aquaculture Case Studies

Copper-alloy mesh technology began in 1975 with small salmon farming enclosures in the northeast United States. Since then, copper-alloy technology has evolved and has now been successfully implemented worldwide, providing productive and sustainable solutions for fish farmers. Here are case studies supported by the International Copper Association and their outcomes.

At Van Diemen Aquaculture, copper-zinc mesh pens have been used since 2005 to raise Atlantic salmon. Based on demonstrated success, Van Diemen increased the number of copper pens from 6 to 28 with further expansion underway. Growers have reported a 15% reduction in feeding costs over the past three years. Fish mortality decreased from 20 to 10% and losses from attack by predators also decreased from less than 5% to less and 0.1%.
Ashimori Industry Company has installed more than 300 copper-zinc alloy pens for seriola. Some pens have been in continuous service for more than eight years. Farmers report a 50% increase in biomass density, a 10% improved growth rate, and Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) with no antibiotic use.
EcoSea Farming is leasing copper-alloy pens to salmon and trout farmers in Chile. As of mid-2010 the company has installed more than 80 pens. Farmers report decreased mortality, increased supply of dissolved oxygen, and no losses from predator attack. In addition, EcoSea is testing submersible pen technology for installation at exposed sites.
The East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute is leading a five-year program to develop and deploy copper-alloy aquaculture pens. The target species include black sea bass, fugu, large yellow croaker, and cobia.
A cooperative project involving the University of New Hampshire and Çanakkale University is developing copper-alloy aquaculture pens for sea bass and sea bream farming in the Mediterranean region.
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United States
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has conducted small-scale trials with juvenile and adult cod contained in copper-alloy mesh. In 2009, in association with the United States Soybean Association, UNH conducted a trial with a submerged net pen in the Gulf of Maine in the North Atlantic. The test demonstrated the net pen’s successful containment of cod and fish farmers reported no attachment of organisms to the mesh.
A local fish farm, Insung, joined forces with the ICA and its Korean members, LS-Nikko and DaeChang, to introduce copper-alloy mesh as the ideal solution to fish-farming complications. Two large copper-alloy net pens were deployed off the southern coast of Korea, in October 2011. The pens are 6000 m³ in volume. This environmentally friendly copper-alloy net system takes advantage of copper’s natural ability to resist the growth of organic matter, allowing the fish to mature in a healthier environment with more dissolved oxygen.
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EcoSea installed two 30×30 12-meter copper-alloy pens in November 2012 with Mainstream Canada. The region is plagued with predator attacks from seals and sea lions. Farms and local regulators are looking for a solution.
EcoSea installed one copper bottom/nylon wall in a salmon pen in January 2013 at a Marine Harvest site. The pen is 100 meters in circumference. This location also has predator attacks from marine mammals.
Pen installations also will be completed in Australia, Greece, South Africa and Mozambique in 2013.