The Caribbean, and more specifically, St. Croix, island is facing many ecological and economic problems. While the island economy is heavily dependent on fisheries and tourism, these practices are currently very unsustainable and harmful to the fragile ecology of the local environment. Fish Stocks in the Caribbean is declining to critical levels, and threatening the health of coral reefs in the area. The project proposes a new model for the fishing industry, moving from capturing wild stock to cultivating fishes in an adaptive and integrative manner. It offers to create a space for ecology, industry, and recreation to come together.
Salt River Bay Adaptive Farm is made of floating rings of operable fishing cages, and human spaces. The operable fish cage system consists of floating walkway, underwater fish basins, and an expandable constructed wetland area in the center. The system is controlled by a large anchor weight in the middle that acts as the pulling force. Young fishes are kept at shallow depth for easier monitoring and feeding. As the fishes grow larger, their weight counters the center anchor weight, and enable the center to expand. Adult fishes are then kept at a deeper depth; enabling them to take advantage of wild food sources. The center habitat is made of a mesh of suspended growth media. As the fishes are growing larger, this area is also expanding. Vegetation provides shelter spaces for wintering birds, nursery for reef fishes, and help filters the water from aquaculture production.
Kelp is farmed in the outer nets of the ring, as fish food, and for human consumption. Fish Culture waste is also directed to the kelp pods to be used as kelp’s nutrient.
There are three independent operable systems in the project. The first one is a parrotfish hatchery. The population of these algae-eating fishes has been diminishing because of overfishing and reef loss. As parrotfishes are key to control excessive algal growth in the Caribbean, their loss has led to algae replacing corals in many places, and preventing reef from forming by taking over the substrate. The hatchery would help replenish their population in the wild, as well as serves as a lab for the researchers. Surrounding the fish cages is a ring of inhabitable spaces that house labs, library, collection, and underwater exhibition.
The next two cage systems are reserve for aquaculture production. It can serve as a fish farm that raises fishes to harvestable site, or as a near shore hatchery infrastructure to provide young fry for offshore cage cultures in different areas of the Caribbean.
Surrounding these cage are rings of processing and production areas as well as agriculture spaces. Taking advantage of water collection technologies, vegetable will be grown hydroponically, and is sold in local markets.
One ring is reserved for recreation and living spaces. The symbiotic relationship between food production, research, and tourism provide possibility for a more resilient and sustainable model of economy and ecology. Visitors have a chance to learn about the production of their food, visit the wetland habitat, and walk through the underwater reef aquarium. Compact underwater living quarter allows researchers and student to stay on site for long periods of time, and take advantage of the provided recreational activities.
Status: School Project
Location: St Croix, VI