Two Maryland companies have teamed up to design a solar-powered barge that could bring oyster farming into deeper parts of the Chesapeake Bay, improving the estuary’s oyster output and perhaps easing conflicts with watermen and waterfront landowners.
The two companies — Maritime Applied Physics Corp. and the EcoLogix Group — are developing a rig mounted with solar panels that holds oysters in vertical columns up to 20 feet deep. Oysters typically grow in cages or reefs resting on the bottom of shallow water or in cages floating at the surface, so this technology would allow oyster growers to better take advantage of deeper waters.
The companies, under the aegis Solar Oysters, are crafting prototypes in hopes of setting up a demonstration oyster farm in the coming year to attract investment for their design. The initial models have been small, but the concept calls for much larger barges floating in the Chesapeake in the years ahead, which experts say could have a big effect on the aquaculture industry.
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