The Gulf of Mexico Offshore Aquaculture Consortium has announced the arrival of its research cage on the Coast where it awaits assembly and placement in the Gulf of Mexico. The 30x49-foot Sea Station cage, manufactured by Ocean Spar Technologies, LLC, will be assembled and towed to its mooring position some time in the near future, according to Christopher Bridger, Project Coordinator.
"We are making final decisions on the exact location for the mooring and then waiting for the last of the permits before we can place the cage in its location," Bridger says. "It's been a learning process for everyone. This type of offshore aquaculture project has never been done before in U.S. federal waters so we are having to progress slowly and carefully."
The Sea Station cage design includes a three-foot wide, 30-foot long vertical steel spar that will act as a buoyancy regulator for the cage. When filled with air, the spar will allow the top of the cage to ride five feet above the water's surface, and when filled with water, it will allow it to sink to the bottom in situations such as hurricanes. The 10-inch steel rim measures 49-feet in diameter and will keep the cage net in a rigid double-cone shape.
The current research project calls for the cage to remain empty for the first year so that engineering and environmental monitoring can be conducted. The location of the cage, though not finalized, will be adjacent to a Chevron USA Production Co. natural gas production platform, approximately 22 miles due south of Pascagoula, MS.